The Positives and Negatives about my Twirling Experience on Planet Earth
Baton Twirling has been a HUGE part of my life. I was born into a family of twirlers, trained relentlessly even when I didn’t want to, won and lost hundreds of competitions, traveled the world, been kicked out of gyms, injured parts of my body I didn’t know were possible, met lovely and horrid people, etc. etc etc.
Along with the many joys and positive experiences there have been countless disappointments and frustrations. Here I lay before you some of the things I found most positive and negative about my life in Competitive Baton twirling.
+ Learning how to become a champion literally was the roadmap to finding peace in my adulthood.
– The road to becoming a champion was filled with so much pain, my warped perceptions caused me to be comfortable with pain and abuse in my life for quite some time.
+ Traveling the world offered me experiences outside of my own limited perceptions of life and opened my eyes to many possibilities, ways of living, cultures, customs and people.
– Having to explain and describe what my sport was, and that I really was an athlete was a constant frustration throughout my career.
+ My coaches brought so much goodness to my life and taught me that my goals were attainable, that my problems were manageable and that life could be hopeful.
– The pressures of competition were sickening. I became very ill from stress, for a long time I continued to compete, not realizing that I had value outside of the gymnasium.
+ I had the opportunity to reach many physical goals, and to know the feeling of being at the top of my field.
– No matter what I won in the sport of Baton Twirling it was not recognized by the general population. I was extremely frustrated that I couldn’t compete in the Olympics or have a contract or endorsements from companies like Nike or Addidas.
+ I was able to use my creative abilities to invent things that had not been done in my way before.
– The jealousies and poor treatment from opposing competitors, coaches and federation administrators was a great difficulty. The politics of sport can be brutal.
+ Wonderful people like Mr. Chuck Sharp, who sponsored my trip to the World Championship in 1983, The Chizzoli Family, who adopted me into the Italian Federation and their family, and other generous, loving people who stepped in to help me was an amazing lesson in compassion that I carry with me still.
– Many injuries including multiple broken nose episodes, too many huge goose eggs to count, an inserted baton-in-crotch landing during a straddle leap pull out, 8 knocked out teeth, left knee trauma and surgery, broken fingers, fat lips, baton knob in the eyeball fiasco, etc. etc. etc.
+ Many satisfying training hours in the gym, skills acquired such as high level floor gymnastics, dance, and incredible hand-eye coordination.
– Many awful training hours feeling like it wasn’t worth it and there was no real reward in the end.
+ The thousands and thousands of students I have shared time with all over the world. Sharing my skills has been incredibly rewarding.
+ Being part of the history of a developing sport.
+ Counting myself as a part of a unique global community of talented, interesting, dedicated athletes.
+ Seeing the 10’s go up. Unbelievable and satisfying in that moment.
+ Witnessing the joy in my coaches when they realized their many hours of training me had shaped something amazing.
+ Practicing outside, under street lamps in more countries than I can remember.
+ Learning to eat properly to enhance my performance has helped me throughout life and kept me in shape.
+ Knowing that I can mentally stick with something even when it seems nearly impossible.
+ Realizing that determination, work-ethic, hope, imagination and love makes everything possible.
+ Twirling is one of the things that showed me that there are no limitations in life.