To The Little Ones With A Baton And Big Dreams

To The Little Ones With A Baton And Big Dreams

When the going gets tough, push through and shine on!
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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.


Cover Image Credit: Emmy Rinehart

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The Top 20 Hottest NHL Players

Hockey players are so much more than toothless, scarred beasts.
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As a lifelong fan of the NHL, I've grown up watching the tough and rugged players on the ice. I have learned to appreciate their ice presence when they're playing and now I can appreciate how well they clean up off ice. I believe hockey players are some of the most underrated athletes in America. They're more than just scarred up, toothless beasts. These ice gods heat up the ice with not only their talent, but with their looks as well.

Since the hockey season is in full swing, I felt it was an appropriate time to recognize their attractiveness along with their talent. So without further ado, here are the hottest male professional hockey players in the league as of today.

20. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

This studly player is impressive at every angle. He is second in the league only to Alex Ovechkin for most goals scored this season. That, along with sex appeal such as his, makes him a major cause of racing hearts and swooning.

19. Andrew Ference, Edmonton Oilers

Captain of the Oilers and environmental extraordinaire, he has skills on the ice that pertain to more than just good stats and records. His care for the environment, smoking hot looks, and performance on ice are three reasons why he is featured here.

18. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

While being one of the best goalies in the league, Carey Price is one foxy man. He has hockey in his blood: his father played for the Philadelphia Flyers. That explains his incredible talent which led him and his Canadian team to win the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

He does, however, have a wife. I can only hope I become as lucky as her and all of the other NHL wives.

17. Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks

Chris Higgins? More like Prince Charming. His swoon-worthy charm and sweet persona draw attention to him. That, and his incredible abilities as a hockey player. He is one of the most respectful players in the league, making him a man no one can hate.

16. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

This hunk has everything going for him: a second-to-none defenseman rating, long and luscious hair, and those muscles. He's just 25 years old and has been playing for seven seasons. I wouldn't mind being able to meet him and see if those muscles really are bigger than my head.

15. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

This man has made himself a household name along with being extraordinarily good looking. As the captain of the Penguins, he is incredibly skilled on and off the ice. It's approximated that he earns $8.7 million per year. If he's getting paid that much for less than perfect puck handling, it must mean he's good.

14. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins

This beauty is a defenseman with one Stanley Cup win under his belt. He's even won gold medals at back-to-back at the World Junior Championships. He has all that plus looks; what a catch. However, he's got a son that means the world to him, along with a very lucky wife.

13. Beau Bennett, Pittsburgh Penguins

Beau is 6'2" of pure handsome. His boyish charm and potential star athlete are hard features to overlook. He is working his way up to making a name for himself, as he is just 24 years old. Ladies, get a hold of him while you still can.

12. Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

This proud papa is a ten year veteran defenseman. His looks aren't the only thing he excels in. Without him, Chicago's defense would be missing a key part of their team.

11. Jeff Carter, LA Kings

While he is a two time Stanley Cup winner, Carter is a beautiful man as well. He's a ten year veteran. Surprising, right?

This romantic proposed to his girlfriend just days after winning his second Stanley Cup. So, sorry ladies, he's happily married.

10. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

His veteran status at age 35 seems like a fictional statement. He does not look 35 whatsoever. My theory is that he's a vampire. Or maybe he just ages well.

In his career, he has scored 308 goals as a left winger for the Red Wings. He's got the looks and the talent, as do most of the men on this list.

9. Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

As captain of the Rangers, McDonagh is a renowned defenseman. His grace on the ice makes him a key player in the Rangers' lineup. Injuries have plagued him this season, but his skills have yet to falter.

8. TJ Oshie, Washington Capitals

For those of you who love men with long hair, TJ Oshie is your guy. He's got the flow not only with his luscious locks, but with his hockey skills as well. He's a veteran winger that is as good on the ice as he is in looks.

7. Alex Wennberg, Columbus Blue Jackets

This Swed has only been in the league for 2 years, so he's a pretty new face to the NHL community. So, look out for him in the next few years, ladies. This 21-year-old is a promising athlete and exceptionally gifted in the looks department.

6. Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings

This Canadian defenseman is a key player on the ice for the Red Wings. He is a well-suited veteran, playing in the league for 10 years. Despite his veteran status, his looks have been constant through the years.

His muscular build is necessary during games and greatly appreciated when the pads come off. I'm sure those muscles are bigger than my head.

5. Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks

This veteran has been in the league for 13 seasons, but has not lost his charm. He has been with the Canucks for 11 of those seasons; he was traded to the Ducks only two years ago. His talent goes past his hockey skills as he released his own clothing line, "RK17."

He is married and a father of three beautiful children. Sorry ladies, but there are more men to choose from on this list that are just as attractive.

4. Derick Brassard, New York Rangers

Tall, dark, and handsome. Standing at 6'1", this center has made a name for himself throughout his eight years in the league. Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, he was later traded to the Rangers, where he has been a star. As a Rangers' fan, I am not complaining whatsoever. He has netted 122 goals throughout his career and his on-ice presence is essential to the Rangers' playmaking abilities.

He is, unfortunately, taken by former figure skater Terra Findlay. She's a lucky lady to be with such a talented, good looking man.

3. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

I would do anything to see him riding the zamboni as he's pictured above at intermission. This 24-year-old Canadian was drafted in the first round, second overall. He's netted 32 goals this season already, which is tied for third in the NHL behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane.

Along with his impressive on-ice skills, he is unbelievably attractive. Look how toned his legs are! To my knowledge, he is single as a Pringle. I just wish he would mingle somewhere near me.

2. Marcus Foligno, Buffalo Sabres

This 24-year-old has been in the league for four years and I only just discovered him during my quest for attractive hockey players. He's not a very well-known player, but he's incredibly talented and single. Go get him ladies!

1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Number 30 on the ice and number 1 in my heart. I may be a bit biased, being a Rangers fan and all, but there is no doubt that Henrik is the most attractive player in the league thus far. He's also one of the best goaltenders to ever grace the ice. Recently -- February 25, 2016, to be exact -- he passed Mike Richter for most saves in the Rangers' franchise history in their win against the Blues.

Sorry ladies, this Swed is married happily and has a young son. Therese Andersson is one lucky lady.

Now, I can only hope that I am lucky enough to marry an NHL star. It's my goal in life to score one of these extraordinarily attractive men. (Bad pun? Sorry.) A girl can dream, can't she?

Cover Image Credit: askmen.com

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Tiger Is Back And 2019 Is Starting To Look Up

Tiger Woods might now have the greatest comeback story in sports history.

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It's no secret that Tiger Woods means a lot to the game of golf. I wrote about his influence back in September when he achieved his one and only tournament win in 2018, first since 2013. I did, however, celebrate his win with a caveat of sorts: I wouldn't say he was back.

In golf, no one cares about how big your prize purse is, how many endorsements you've got or even how many tournaments you win. A golfer's career is measured by how many Majors they win. So for me, I couldn't claim Tiger was back until he secured at least one more Major victory before he decided to hang up the clubs for good.

But now, with a Masters championship under his belt and another green jacket to hang in the closet, I can safely say without a doubt in my mind that Tiger is back.

The biggest question with Tiger was whether or not he could carry the momentum from his Tour Championship into the Masters. Tiger has gotten our hopes up before, but things felt different the moment Tiger claimed that first tournament win in what felt like forever.

And honestly, there's no better way for the world's biggest golfer than in the world's biggest tournament. The "Tiger Effect" is very real, and the numbers are there to prove it. Despite having to tee off early for the final round with threesomes instead of duos to avoid storms, the Masters still delivered incredibly high TV ratings as Tiger played his way into contention the past few days. According to CBS, the final round of the Masters delivered a 7.7 rating which is the highest it's been in 34 years. I'll never forget where I was when Tiger won his fifth green jacket, and I'm certainly not alone in saying that.

So what does this mean for Tiger's legacy? For one, the argument of "can Tiger win another major before he retires" can finally be put to rest. I'm not a huge fan of the talking heads in the sports industry, but watching this video of the slue of bad Tiger takes just brings a smile to my face. It also resurfaces the Jack Nicklaus debate as the greatest golfer of all time. Having now secured his 15th Major win, breaking Nicklaus' record at 18 Major wins seems entirely possible. Statistically, Tiger winning another Major is not outside of the realm of possibility. Julius Boros was the oldest player to win a Major at 48, so Tiger at 43 theoretically gives him another five years. One thing's for sure, the entire sports world will be watching.

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