When I decided to start twirling, I never thought I'd be where I am today.
Four-year-old me that watched the big girls practice for team and corp didn't know that they had been going for 5 hours, had done that same routine 50 times that day, hadn't eaten dinner yet, and had had a full day of school beforehand.
She didn't know that sometimes you wouldn't want to go to practice because you were already exhausted from a full day of other things.
She didn't know that sometimes coaches yell to get you to kick it in gear.
She didn't know that she'd have bruises all over her for the rest of her years as a twirler.
She didn't know she would sacrifice birthdays and holidays and school dances for this sport called baton twirling.
But most importantly, she didn't know about all the friends she would make, the coaches that would not only help to perfect her twirling but also her character, the strength of the bond she'd have with her mom because of this sport, or the many unbelievable memories she would make twirling on a college football field next to people that would become her second family.
She didn't know any of these things, all she knew was she wanted to be like every one of those big girls out there, twirling their hearts out, all for the sake of this crazy sport we call baton.
To all of you little girls and boys out there that want to start twirling, DO IT. Find a coach that works for you, work hard, and never look back. If you do, the sky is the limit on your twirling dreams.
There will be times when you don't want to go to the gym, there will be times that you cry because you're frustrated, there will be times when something happens that makes you want to give up, but I'm here to tell you PUSH ON.
Whenever you forget why you do this to yourself, remember what made you start. Remember the twirlers who inspired you, and know that the entire twirling community is cheering you on!
If I had quit all the times I thought I wanted to when I was in a racquetball court at 8 p.m. at night after school running struts and solos, I would have missed out on many of the best moments of my life. Being a Twirling Ambassador to Peru, Traveling to Switzerland to compete with Team U.S.A. (and making it onto the podium with a Silver Medal!), and twirling in the Top 6 finals at A.Y.O.P., just to name a few.
And to all of the "big girls" now like me, whenever you're at practice and you feel frustrated, or when that little one picks the most stressful time of your life to ask for a picture, or you feel like giving up on that combination you've been working on, remember that all those younger girls and boys are looking up to you for the answers and the secrets to being an amazing baton twirler.
Be their role model, their inspiration, and the thing that makes them keep going, and let them be those things for you, too.
From watching the older girls, to advanced baton twirler, to WVU Feature Twirler, to coach, and hopefully judge someday, I encourage you to remember why you started and keep going.
You're going to do such wonderful things on this journey, and I know this because I, too, was the little one who picked up a baton and never let go.