Inside look at LegionEttes Baton Twirling

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Grace and her coach, Heather, pose for a photo together during Grace’s first year of competition baton twirling.

To most people, their favorite sport is football, soccer, or hockey. Mine, however, is Twirling. Now, Twirling may not be as familiar as other sports, but it takes just as much dedication, time, and effort. 

What is Baton Twirling? Competitive Baton Twirling encompasses the manipulation of a metal rod (baton) and the performer’s body to a coordinated program of skills choreographed to music. It is considered a sport and contains many different forms and styles. More information on baton twirling history can be found here.  

There are many competitions in which Twirlers can be a part of. The one of the biggest ones is the TIA (Tournament Indoor Association), which holds its championship in WildWood, NJ. Teams from across the country come to this event in hopes of winning the Atlantic Coast Championship, and is what they have been preparing for all this time. All events prior to this are known simply as “practice.” The TIA Competition is the one that will have us all at the edge of our seats. It is normally held from April 28th through May 1st. This provides performances including: Percussion, Dance, Color Guard and Twirling. Jazz band also participates during the TIA season (January through May).  

I have been competing for three years now with the LegionEttes Competition Team. My coach, Ms. Heather Heimbach, is also the director of the organization. She has been twirling for 36 years now, starting when she was nearly six years old. “I always had a baton in my hand. Everywhere I went, it always went with me,” Heather expressed to me when I asked her how much estimated time she spent practicing. 

Sports demand dedication and an immense amount of commitment, and Heather had both of these. She told me about how her mother could not afford a sport seeing as though she had three children to provide for on her own. This was until she came across Twirling. Lessons were only a dollar at the time, which could be accommodated for. Therefore, Heather’s mother asked if she would be interested. This small gesture turned into a long lasting career for her, and she has loved it ever since. Her favorite performance she has done was “Grease,” where she greatly enjoyed playing her favorite character, Danny Zuko. The thing Heather has enjoyed most about Twirling was the fact that it “Required dedication. You could excel at your own pace and your hard work always paid off.” This is the meaning behind sports. It is an outlet.  This allows for a place of success and growth in many different forms. It has done this for Heather as well as many others, including me. 

Twirling may not be known by everyone, but to those who it has impacted know that things wouldn’t be the same without it. As Heather told me later, “it was fate” that twirling was brought to her. This was the thing she needed, the thing that made her feel welcomed, but also helped her to stand out from everyone else. It was something to turn to when things got rough, and that is exactly what she did. I have been coached by her for some time now, and I could never imagine someone better. She is the one I aspire to be as good as one day.

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