GIVE it a twirl

Friday, August 14, 2009
Baton twirler Erica Anderson (Kit Doyle)

Erica Anderson, 13, started experimenting with batons when she was 7 after watching halftime shows at football games.

"I guess the shiny metal appealed to me," she said. "It's really neat to watch."

Anderson, an eighth-grader at Jackson Junior High School, competed in America's Youth on Parade last month. At the national competition in South Bend, Ind., she placed in the top 12 for her four events.

Before starting lessons about two years ago, Anderson said, she experimented on her own for about five years. She modeled her moves after older twirlers.

"I tried to watch them and remember as much as I could," she said.

After starting classes, she said competitions quickly followed. She participates in about four events a year and hopes to compete at the college level and earn a scholarship.

At the national competition in July, she participated in four events -- one baton, two baton, show twirl and x-strut, which includes leaps and stretches. Her show twirl routine, a theme-based event, included Ghostbusters music and costume.

It was her first time at the national event, which does not have any qualifying competitions.

"At nationals you see good twirlers and you see bad ones," she said.

Anderson received 12th place in the show twirl and x-strut events. She also placed fifth for two baton and eighth for one baton. There were 60 other twirlers in each event, she said.

She said she can throw the baton 60 feet into the air. One of her more difficult tricks includes spinning three times before catching the baton. She pulled off the move twice during the national event.

"I forgot what I was supposed to do next I was so happy," she said.

Regardless of the more difficult moves, she said it's more important to keep smiling despite mistakes.

"Just grab the baton and keep going," she said.

abusch@semissourian.com

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