• Did you have a role model? Can you explain how they impacted on your life?
I was never so intrigued by “role models” in the traditional sense. Twirlers I found inspiring in my youth included Kathy Fugimi, Corey Kinyon and Gino Cicerella. Baton twirlers mainly captured my attention with style and tricks. I was more interested in human stories than hero’s. I was deeply inspired by the film “Rocky” because I felt, I too, was coming from a place of hardship and that I could overcome any obstacle through ingenuity, dedication and hard work. I deeply believe we, as individuals, should depend on ourselves to be our role models. What role do you want to play in your own life? How are you going to create that role? How can you constantly learn from that role and expand into the next role? These are important questions in my life.
• At what point in your twirling career did you decide that you wanted to be a champion and to compete at the World Championships?
I was forced to become a baton twirler. I did not like twirling baton, I did not like to practice, I did not like to compete. I did NOT like to lose. I was never winning and this caused me deep pain. At a certain point I realized I had to choose to embrace the life I was born into, or choose to be miserable. I knew I could not become fulfilled in my sport by having poor coaching and terrible routines. When I was 12 I found 2 coaches who would ultimately help me to change my life entirely. Annette Odello and Jerry “Papa Smurf” Alvarez, brought me from complete obscurity to becoming the youngest USA Grand National Champion in a 3 month time span. Training with their positive coaching style and phenomenal choreography brought out the best parts of who I was. I was also a choreographer and I discovered that I could create along with them. They showed me the world through the eyes of artists, and I flourished as I began to enjoy twirling from a different perspective. After winning the Grand National Solo Championships in 1981, I was never again defeated in a solo title competition. I retired from competition in 1998.
• How many World championships have you been to and what’s been your favourite?
In my era it was odd to stay in competitive twirling for as long as athletes do now. I began the trend of competing after winning a single Grand National or World title because I was so young when I first won, it would have been ridiculous to retire at 14. Many people were upset that I competed in Grand Nationals for a consecutive year after having won the title.
My first World title was captured in Milan Italy in 1983, and nothing will ever quite compare to that win. I was the first female athlete to receive multiple scores of “10”. My lowest score that year was a “9.9”
Overall, I competed in 6 WBTF World Championships. I received 3 silver medals and 3 gold medals.
• What has been your favourite twirl to do? And is there a signature Annetta twirl/moves?
I resonate with rolls. The “Lucero Roll” is the most commonly known trick that I am credited for. I made it up when I was 13 years old and debuted it at the Grand National Championships. I have noticed that the mutli-spin catch back-hand inside a reverse illusion is referred to as the “Lucero Catch” in many countries as well.
• What has been your proudest achievement so far?
Pride is something I try not to visit in my human experience.
I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned in this lifetime, both from sport and from the stories I have collected along my journey. My terminally ill son, Jaidon, was a great teacher as was my near-fatal car accident several years ago.
• Your passion for Baton Twirling is so prominent, can you explain to us why you have dedicated so much of your life to this sport?
I dedicate my life to learning, serving others and giving as much of my soul to whoever is willing to receive it. I also happen to twirl baton… baton twirling has served as the arena for what I am truly here to do.
• What are some of your favourite things to do outside of Twirling?
Create art of any kind, laugh way too loud, and eat lobster.
• Tell us why you decided to move into performing circus? Would you ever come to Australia?
I would LOVE to come to Australia to share my knowledge of our sport and to perform. I moved from competition to circus because it was an avenue for me to continue to do, not only what I was trained to do as an athlete, but to blend sport with art, which is what I had discovered I was talented at.
• You’re such an inspiring person and athlete – Do you have any words of encouragement or a special message you would you like to share with the Twirlers in Australia?
Do you know that being a world champion does not validate you as a human being? You are already valid. You do not need to catch a triple illusion to be considered AWESOME. You are already awesome. You do not need an expensive costume to feel beautiful and impress the judges. You are already beautiful and impressive. Your smile is a dazzling accessory. Your effort is ENOUGH. Your desires are already possible, simply because you exist; even if they don’t come to pass as you imagined, the possibilities in your life are limitless. Breathe deep, pause, look beyond the pain and self-doubt and see yourself as I do. You are INCREDIBLE! (yes, YOU). You are WORTHY, exactly as you are… right NOW.