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More than just twirling

Baton twirling competitions do not only involve twirling, there is much more that is unknown about these tournaments
Taylor Noe
A New Trophy: Sophomore baton twirler Jessica Dick wins 2nd place in the Solo Dance Twirl 15+ Division. “My main divisions are Advanced 15+ for Twirling Unlimited Competitions, and Advanced 13-15 for NBTA Competitions,” Dick said.

An outsider may think a baton twirling competition only involves a dance, music and a baton. For the twirlers though, it is another world.

With multiple different categories, including, strut, modeling, show routines and more, twirling competitions are an all-day event with many ways to win.

“We offer events such as modeling, interview, marching, fancy struct, solo, two-baton routines, three-baton routines and duet twirls, among others,” pageant director Nina Barnes said.

As many categories as there are, there are a considerable amount of divisions and levels in each. The divisions are broken down into ages including 0-6, 7-8, 9-11, 12-14 and 15+. As for levels, they are broken up into Special Beginner, Novice, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. The more wins a twirler achieves, the higher they will move up in the event. 

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Usually, a competition will be split into two main portions; individual music events in the morning, and solo events in the afternoon. With everything that goes on in the day, it is Barnes’ job to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

“Before the event, I create scoresheets for every competitor in their events so the judges have something to use when judging the events, coordinate the order of performance, and monitor registration for the event,” Barnes said. “I bring trophies and awards, keep music running, answer any questions and troubleshoot.”

Juggling the pageant doesn’t always happen to be the hardest part, instead, making the tough decisions are. 

“Sometimes things happen when we need to consult the rule book to decide how to handle a situation, but ultimately it comes down to the director to make the best call they can at the moment,” Barnes said. “The pressure is not fun.”

Through the hard moments, are the good ones. Over the years, Barnes had watched many twirlers grow up and it has been her favorite part to get to know them and their families. 

Opal Shaheen is a freshman twirler at the high school. She has been twirling for a little over two years, and is soon to be a participant in each of the events that pageants offer, she wins about three times a competition. As she has been a part of a team before, she found it helped her improve.

“It makes it easier to learn tricks and builds a lot of friendships,” Shaheen said. 

Other than just the friendships, Shaheen sees a common misconception in thinking competitions are all fun.

“It either gets really boring or very stressful with no in-between,” Shaheen said. 

Sophomore Jessica Dick is also a twirler at the high school. She has been twirling for 13 years and won multiple awards for baton twirling.

“I got Senior Miss TU Majorette 15-17 this year,” Dick said. “Years ago I had a Miss Majorette win in NBTA Comp Intermediate 10-12, went to nationals and placed 10th.”

Dick also had one more award in beginner 0-6, where she went to nationals and placed sixth. 

Besides the awards, for Dick, this will be remembered as a high school memory, as she has decided she does not want to continue in college.

“I don’t want to hurt myself as an adult, but I’m going to enjoy twirling for my last few years,” Dick said.

Additionally, a part of the high school twirlers is senior Milania Glover. She has been twirling for nine years and has participated in multiple different categories, winning six pageants. Over time she has recognized that most do not realize how much work is put in.

“Most people don’t realize that twirlers learn a lot of different routines and compete all of them in an attempt to win a pageant,” Glover said. “Most people also don’t know how much warming up and perfecting it takes to make a twirling routine look good.”

As Glover was a part of a team for nine years, she had a great experience with it.

“I became very close with all the girls on my team in those years and we all supported and loved each other,” Glover said. 

Similar to Dick, Glover also plans to stop twirling after high school but is grateful for the years she got to participate in it. Shaheen, on the other hand, is not yet sure what she wants to do in college.

Baton twirling is a sport that requires lots of energy, but for the people who love it, it makes it all worthwhile. The competitions may be busy, but that just leads to more ways to win.

“You would be surprised the number of state, regional, national, and world champion twirlers are even from the Canton, Ohio area,” Barnes said.

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About the Contributor
Taylor Noe
Taylor Noe, Feature Editor
Taylor Noe (she/her) is a senior. This is her 3rd year on staff. She's also involved in Speech and Debate, Lacrosse, Marching, Jazz, Pep, & Concert Band. She's a member of the OSMA Student Board, the Student Ambassador Program, and the Athena Lacrosse Team. Lastly, she is a Key Club Officer. For fun she likes to watch TikTok and spend time with her friends. A fun fact about her is she owns 2 gerbils named Buckeye and Snickers.
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