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Girls catching new wave of baton twirling

October 28, 2011
Kylie Saari - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - It was a scene of both the past and the future.

Little girls learning to twirl, throw and catch batons, dreaming of leading a marching band or dancing in competition.

The class took place Thursday afternoon at Fairmont Elementary, but many have occurred over the years as the sport of baton twirling has come in and out of fashion.

Article Photos

Tracy Meadows, right, measures batons for her students based on the lengths of their arms on Thursday at Fairmont Elementary.

Baton twirling, which originated in Eastern Europe and came to the United States just after the Civil War, is making a comeback, according to instructor and long-time twirler Tracy Meadows.

Most recently, twirling was popular in the 1950s and again the 1970s, and appears set to see an upswing again.

Meadows began to notice a re-emergence of the sport a few years ago and taught a class through Community Education and Recreation at that time. Only a few girls attended, but they had a good time.

Since then, Fairmont Area High School marching band has instituted a twirling troupe again, so CER contacted Meadows and asked her to teach another class.

This time, 10 enthusiastic girls came to give it a try, many inspired by the two twirlers now in the marching band.

Fairmont High School band director Kate Kallenbach had an offer several years ago from Marilyn Fritzinger to give lessons to anyone interested in twirling. It wasn't until last spring that any student took her up.

"It's kind of fun to see baton twirling make a return," Kallenbach said. "It's definitely a new artistic section to add to our marching band. We hope to add more members as the interest continues."

Aurora Teskey, a ninth-grader twirling for the band, came to the sport through the encouragement of her mother, who twirled when she was young.

Teskey has been playing around with the baton since she was little and it was a natural fit for her.

Baton twirling seemed to fade in the mid-1980s through the 1990s, but it never went away completely.

Meadows started twirling at age 6 and continued to compete through college. International competitions still exist, with competitors performing complex tossing and catching while dancing.

Thursday's class was a beginner class, with less tossing and more twirling, but if the girls want to continue to learn, Meadows is willing to give lessons.

An anonymous donor gave the CER program a set of batons to use, specifically sized for younger participants.



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