Twirling Through Life

What do you even do with a metal stick?


photo by Melina Tripoli

Melina Tripoli, Reporter

What’s a majorette? What do you do with the baton? Oh, so you lead the band, right? Are those knives you twirl sharp? What do you even do with a metal stick?

Those are just some of the questions I get almost every time I tell people I’m a majorette or I twirl. It’s sad to say but not many people known that this sport, if you want to consider it that, still exists today.

Baton twirling is more complicated than it looks, trust me. When I first started, the cocky 9 year old that I was thought this would be like my blow off dance class. I just switched dance studios and since they didn’t have my old class I loved, my mom told me I should do baton. I remember being so annoyed that I just looked at my mom and said “Sure,” not really processing the words she said to me. Before I knew it I was signed up and had a baton in hand.

When the first class rolled around I was hands down prepared to be bored and able to do everything so easily. But when the teacher showed us horizontals and I went to do it I instantly knew I would have to work. I would say it took me a good year until I did horizontals like I do them now. I know some of the tricks twirlers do look so simple, but trust me when I say this, they are much harder than they look! Some of the girls start at the age of five, or ever younger, and continue until college.

I’m not going to say I had it hard and that I worked harder than everyone, but I had to work harder once I left that studio. When I found my coach at a mini camp she teaches, I found out that I’d been learning everything wrong for the past three almost four years. Quickly my parents and I decided to leave my dance studio, especially since I was done with dance that year, and I started private lessons.

It wasn’t easy at all. I basically had to erase everything I was taught for the past four years and learn everything again. I would get so frustrated and even be close to tears because what I thought was right would be wrong. Being told I wasn’t doing something right was so frustrating, but I used all that frustration and poured it into getting tricks right. It may have taken a year to finally be able to say I’m doing tricks right.

When I say this I’m not being modest at all. I’m not very flexible and really can’t do any cool gymnastic moves like walkovers. To twirl though, you need to have some flexibility. Some dance is incorporated in this as well as some gymnastics, if you can. Some of the tricks I’ve seen done or I’ve tried are cartwheels, leg holds, splits, jazz splits, illusions, walkovers, and there are probably more that I didn’t name. If you don’t know what those are, don’t worry. I didn’t either. Most of those, by the way, are tricks done while the baton is tossed in the air. These girls do those tricks very fast because getting hit on the head is not fun.

I learned very fast that if you want to do tricks like those you need to stretch. Last year I had an avulsion of my hip, which hurts more than it sounds. You would think I would have learned to stretch or warm up before doing anything. I didn’t. At least two to three other girls pulled their hamstring, but I’m proud to say I hold the worst hip/hamstring injury on our team.

I do twirl for the marching band, but I also compete. I take private lessons with my coach once a week to practice solos and random tricks. When we go to competitions there’s so many different events to enter, but I don’t really do many. I usually do dress and costume modeling, basic and military marching, level 2 solo, and this year I will be doing two baton solo.

Competitions can be very stressful, believe it or not. Depending on how far the place is, my weekend usually consists of hearing my alarm go off at five in the morning. I give myself around two hours, but I take those two hours to full on curl my hair and end up doing my makeup in the moving car with potholes every five seconds.

Once you get to the school you basically are fighting every other girl to find a spot out of sight to change and get ready. Then you grab your dress, in my case we call my dress the disco ball, your heels and run out to find your first event.

At competitions you never have a second to really sit down, in less you are waiting for your turn to perform. They involve a lot of running around, changing costumes, putting your hair up in five minutes or less, and if you are blessed enough, you get time to practice your solo before it’s your turn.

Most importantly, baton has given me a second family. From the girls on the team to the girls I go to competitions with, I’ve never been apart of a team until last year and even when I joined a year late I felt so welcomed. But seriously, we’re like a second family to each other. We fight, we make memories, we cry when we realize this is seniors’ last year, we laugh at our mess ups from half time, we get annoyed when we have to do hundreds of one turns, and we help one another out. I can honestly say I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else every Friday night during football season.

To basically sum up my life story about baton, twirling is something I love to do. No matter how frustrated I get every time I drop a toss. No matter how annoyed I get when I watch all three of my batons drop to the ground. No matter how much my hand shakes after I perform. No matter how many times I look down at my score sheet and see a fifth place instead of a first, baton is something that brings me joy when I have so much stress going through my life.