The Tigerette Majorettes, 1972. Donna Gutauskas is pictured on the front row, far right. Liz Delsey, daughter of baton twirling legend, the late Dorothy Hurst, is also pictured on the back row, center.
Magical and Innocent
The Vintage Baton Twirler is proud to feature the story of Ms. Donna Gutauskas, a Tigerette Majorette with the Hamilton Tiger Cats, a professional Canadian football team based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In 1972, when Donna was just 12-years-old, she performed in the pre-game and half-time show at the Grey Cup, the prestigous Canadian Football League championship game. The Grey Cup is also a trophy awarded annually to the winner of the the CFL playoffs.
“There were no fancy fireworks, wardrobe malfunctions, or inflated stars’ egos,” Donna shared. “There were baton twirlers, brass bands and old-fashioned Oskee wee wee! Oskee wa wa! hoopla. But this was a very special hoopla.
“The Tiger Cats won the Grey Cup, in their home town, just beating Saskatchewan, 13-10.”
The Tigerette Majorettes line up to give Ti-Cat players a “ceremonial guard” at the big game. Donna is the “short one in front of the door.” 😉 (Source: Hamilton Spectator Shot)
Magical and Innocent
“I was 12,” Donna continued. “What did I know about football? Heck, I was just a baton-twirler. But, I knew hometown pride.
“I knew Hamilton fans were 100 percent invested with their emotions. The downtown streets were congested every night for a week, with revelers and fans; men; women, and children of all ages.
“My parents let me go alone with my other young friends to enjoy the parties on the streets. Who does that today? It was magical and innocent.”
Angelo Mosca thought the exact same thing, as Donna, in her Tigerette baton twirling costume, passed him on the field at the end of the nail-biting game. It was the last game of his career.
“He walked slowly on the field through thousands of fans mingling about, his helmet dangling in his hand by his side,” Donna shared. “He stared into the field and into the stands, soaking it all in with bittersweet and exhausted awe. I will never forget that look on his face.
“What did I know about football? I knew that it was one of the best things that ever happened to Hamilton and its citizens. It is a memory that is golden and pure and will never fade.”
Ti-Cat’s 150th Anniversary
In 2019, a series of videos were produced to celebarte 150 years of Tiger-Cat history. Among them was a video about the majorettes. Not only does it highlight wonderful footage of baton twirling at pro football games during 1950s-1970s, but it also features an interview with Donna. She shares her memories including those of her teacher, the baton twirling legend Dorothy Hurst Wilkins (1914-1997). You can learn more about Ms. Wilkins in an article on the Hamilton Public Library website.
Dorothy Hurst Wilkins (1914-1997)
Excerpt from Hamilton Public Library article
“She…became the founder of Hamilton’s first baton twirling school and renowned across Canada for her Tigerettes, which she created in 1957…The Tigerettes won more than 300 group awards for their style, precision and enthusiasm.”
Post Script: Today, Donna and her husband Frank are empty nesters. They are back living in Hamilton. Below is a picture of them on their fishing boat near Algonquin.