Baton Twirling is no longer a “mediocre” sport to the common man. They no longer stand pretty in a small uniform with a lot of fringe, tall hats, and white gloves. They no longer throw a mace in the air and stand as though we are a drum major’s “assistant.” No, today baton twirling is much more than that. It is thousands of women and men gathering together to complete a common goal- be a world champion.
Baton twirlers have a lot to look forward to. They start in small local competitions, move to states, regionals, nationals, and then worlds--- but then it stops. For many other sports there are qualifiers and world championships to determine who gets to keep going, who gets to live up any child athletes dream, who gets to represent their country in the Olympics.
Of course, baton twirlers have not had much of an opportunity to be a child with a dream of an Olympic medal. For most of their lives they have accepted the fact that the Olympic Program Committee just may never recognize them as a true sport. It’s not hard to understand why if you’re an outsider. To you, baton twirlers are just people with metal sticks. They’re able to throw it hundreds of feet in the air and catch it and do crazy maneuvers on their neck…Kind of like a “circus act.” Right. They’ve heard it all before. So what can they tell you to convince you that baton twirling truly is deserving of a spot in the Olympics?
Well, for starters, twirlers train just as hard as any other athlete. Fun fact: They have absolutely no off-season. That’s right! Baton twirling is a year round sport with no “seasonal break.” It is a constant hustle to work, achieve, practice, and perfect what has been given to them. It is not a sport that you can learn overnight. A lot of these men and women have started anywhere between 0 and 6 years old. Can you imagine handing a toddler a metal stick and telling them to "have fun?" That’s the kind of dedication it takes.
Not convinced? What if I told you that baton twirling has the perfect balance of a lot of other sports considered an “Olympic Sport.” They have a lot of the dance technique of a rhythmic gymnast. The flow and movement with a prop of some-sort is exactly the kind of bodywork a twirler has. They have the endurance of a sprinter in track and field. 2.5 minute routines can feel like a full bodied run to the finish. Twirlers are told to pack as many tricks into a small segment and move as fast as they can. You can imagine how hard that can get as you start to advance.
Baton twirlers have the leg strength of a gymnast. Those leaps on a concrete floor do not just happen. They have the reflexes of a fencer and the hand-eye coordination of a ping pong player. If you are standing under a flying metal stick and only have short time to think, good timing, spotting and reflexes can come in handy. They have the arm and shoulder strength of a swimmer. It takes a lot of strength to push a metal stick up into the air before preforming a trick, and it requires muscular arms to do it. Twirlers have the charisma of a synchronized swimmer- because they always do everything with a smile on their face.
The Olympics are obviously no game. The amount of hard work and dedication it takes to reach that gold medal is beyond belief, but these athletes have worked just as hard for years without dreams of the Olympics. Imagine what could happen if they did…