1. You have to explain what baton twirling is to every new person you meet.
No, it’s not “basically cheerleading,” and no, it’s not “basically Color Guard.” Yes, we commend them for all the hard work they do and we will never knock them down for it, but we are our own sport. We are not part of the “pep squad” and we do not just “wave a stick around.”
2. Yes, I need this practice area.
I am sorry I am not playing basketball on this basketball court, but I need this area as much as they do. No, my baton will not damage your walls or your ceilings, and no, a racquetball court is not “just as good.” As much as you may think all I am is a circus act, I am not. I have worked so hard to be where I am, and to get where I am going, I need this spot to practice! So no, I will not move somewhere else just for you to act like you play in the NBA.
3. Constant physical pain.
You never know what you’ll wake up with. Sore hips, back spasms, legs that don’t move, knees that don’t work, etc. Sometimes you wish you‘d never woken up. Questioning why you spent so much time on X-strut at practice yesterday is a common thought.
4. “We don’t want twirlers at our school.”
So all of the work I have put in for most of my life isn’t enough for you? Nothing is more frustrating than being told that what you do is basically insignificant when it is your entire life. Thank you to those band directors who allow us to be a part of your band. You will never understand our gratitude.
5. You know every part of "Stars and Stripes Forever."
That, and the Notre Dame fight song…
6. Yes, I am very cold.
It’s only 30 degrees and I am in a small outfit marching in a Christmas parade or twirling at a nighttime football game. Yes, it’s freezing, and no, you asking about it doesn’t help.
7. Having to juggle a hectic schedule.
8 a.m. School. 3:30 p.m. Team practice. 7:30 p.m Run solo, strut, two baton, three baton, freestyle, show twirl, modeling, etc. 9:30 p.m. Shower. 10:00 p.m. Homework. 11:30 p.m Bed…Wait, did I eat today?
8. “Oh! You’re the stick thrower!”
*Sigh* “Yes… I am the... uh… 'stick thrower.’” I certainly don’t have a real name, thanks for asking.
9. Getting pulled out of class for bruises that “look violent.”
I know it looks bad, but I promise I’m not being abused. My coach just made me drill elbow pops last night until I got them exactly right.
10. “That’s not a sport.”
The most enraging words that have ever been uttered in any twirler's direction. Yes, what I do is a sport. I have spent countless hours in a gym doing what I love to earn that title I have always dreamed of having. It’s is no different than a soccer player wanting to win the World Cup, or a football player dying to get his chance to play in and win the Super Bowl.
This sport is made up of thousands of girls who come from different organizations all around the world. Yes, there are organizations, including the National Baton Twirling Association, United States Twirling Association, Drum Majorettes of America, World Baton Twirling Federation, and Twirling Unlimited, to name a few. Not only that, but if you don’t think twirling is hard, imagine having to use your balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, speed, and grace all while keeping a smile on your face. When we compete, we do it both as a team and solo, and travel all around the world to do so.
It’s a never-ending schedule for twirlers, because we have no off-season. It starts with football season in the fall, practice/pre-season at the end of fall and beginning of winter, heavy competition season from January to July, Nationals in July, and then it repeats itself.
So, as much as it may just look like I just throw a metal stick in the air in front of a marching band, what I do is so much more to me and to every other twirler I have ever known. And, for the record, I am no “twirl-girl.” I am a Baton Twirler.