Metal rod sticks, intense coordination and choreographed dance routines injected with artistic grace are all things that Aryn Bigler deals with in the sport of baton twirling.
In early August, she returned from the International Cup in Sydney, Australia with three gold medals in Adult Solo, Freestyle and 3-Batons.
Bigler, a senior economics major, has been baton twirling ever since elementary school. The sport fits into the criteria of any other competitive sport: It involves intense training, heavy conditioning, precise hand and eye coordination and an impressive background in dance.
“It stands out because you combine so many great sports and skills into one,” Bigler said, who has taken gymnastics and is now taking dance lessons in her spare time.
One may have the misconception that this sport is only seen at parades; Bigler thinks this is not the case.
“I’ve talked to older people who used to do it, and it’s definitely changed,” Bigler said. “It’s not just something you do at a marching band.“
Baton twirling requires the ability to balance and twirl metal rod sticks using the hands and body. As a result of this, a visual pattern of pictures is created – all the while dancing.
The sport has now gone international with the help of the World Baton Twirling Federation to standardize this sport.
Bigler’s experience in baton twirling has not only helped her physically, but she said there are also psychological and mental benefits. It has helped her to manage her time, and dissolve her fears about self-image.
“It’s definitely helped me gain confidence,” Bigler said. “When you’re out there and everyone is watching you, you can get really nervous, or forget your routine.“
Getting nervous and forgetting a routine has happened to Bigler before, which she said was one of the worst and craziest experiences in competing.
So what’s her way of curing this universal fear? Before she steps out, the key, she said, is to calm herself down by thinking positively and imagining all the things that can go right with her performance.
Eventually, she steps into the “zone,” and she feels just like she is at practice again.
After the three gold wins, Bigler said has no regrets – and neither do her parents.
Bigler’s parents have been highly supportive of her ever since she became interested in the sport, cheering her on from the stands. Unfortunately, they were unable to attend her competitions this year in Sydney.
But that did not keep Bigler from keeping positive and going for the gold.
“You get a natural high from being out there, and you make a lot of other friends from other countries,” Bigler said. “It’s just an amazing experience.“
In the future, this talented young twirler hopes to continue her passions in this sport by coaching kids, and possibly making it a full time job.
VANNA LE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. XXX