When I was ten years old, I was introduced to the world of baton twirling while attending a neighborhood picnic. I noticed the neighbor’s 17-year old daughter, Joanie, practicing her two-baton twirling routine in the driveway and my mother asked me if I would like to take twirling lessons. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes!” I remember thinking to myself what a beautiful, elegant sport this was. Not to mention that my mother was also a baton twirler in her youth.
A week later, I met the woman who was to be my Twirling Instructor all through elementary school and up into my high school years. Her name was Jill Rozum and she was, and still is, the best teacher in the world! I loved her so much, my mother immediately enrolled me in Jill’s drum and twirling corp. called, “The Boutiques of Berks County,” with whom I marched and performed with for many years after, eventually making Co-Captain. I was such a shy kid back then and she taught me so very much about determination, pride, hard work, and believing in myself! Not only by giving me the tools in which I needed to acquire quite a few (1st place) trophies in twirling competitions, but more importantly by showing me how to have confidence in me.
Fast forward to last Thursday night, while opening up my sewing kit to hem my hubby’s pants, I found an old “The Boutiques” patch which I hadn’t seen in many, many years and forgotten I had. I put it aside and did not think much more of it again … until the next day. Ironically, after 30 plus years, I ran into my former twirling instructor, Jill, while strolling into a Burger King on my lunch hour. We talked and did a bit of catching up since we last saw one another. I told her about the patch I had just found the night before as she simply laughed and said, “Guess it was fate!” I told her that the years I spent in “The Boutiques” were the best years of my life! To which she replied, “You know, a lot of my former students have said that to me.”
Karin (my former twirling partner), Jill, and I at “The Boutiques”25th Year Reunion gathering for both alumni and current members alike.
Me in 1976 ~ a year after joining “The Boutiques” Drum & Twirling Corp.
In addition, I recently found a former student of mine of whom I had mentored back in my teens when she was only 6 years of age. We found one another on Facebook and she very thoughtfully sent me this kind message:
"Hi Kim. I was sitting here looking at your friend request, the name was so familiar but I couldn't place it. I pulled up your pictures and saw the album ‘Boutiques’ and memories came flooding back. When I left ‘The Boutiques’ my mom had me join the Thunderbolts. I have you to thank for introducing me to twirling. Kept up with it all through Junior high and high school and did individual competitions and had won several 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. I didn't stay with baton the whole time. I did big flags, rifle and saber. I was with a senior drum corp. out of the Lehigh Valley area for several years after school. I miss it but still have my very first baton and the last one I used. My daughter is 19 months old and can't wait till she's old enough to pass them to her and hope she enjoys it as much as me. Thank you very much for that.” ~ Gillian Wickel-Day
In fact, baton twirling builds both self-confidence and self-esteem. When you have to perform in front of thousands of people, it is a real confidence-builder.
A majority of twirlers use some type of water-proof tape to wrap around the shaft of the baton for gripping in the event that their hands begin to sweat during practices and/or performances.
With my twirling partner and friend in competition, Karin, during an exhibition performance in 1982.
A pic my mom took just before a competition at Schuykill Valley High School ~ 1982
“Talent Olympics” competition performance (Hershey, PA) in 1981 ~ 1st Place …
And, again, in 1982
A 1982 Memorial Day Parade in Sinking Spring, PA (I am pictured front, left)
Taken at one of “The Boutiques” Christmas Parties ~1982
Karin & I continued to twirl together all through Junior & Senior High School. We are pictured here just before a half-time performance in our senior year at Wilson High School, 1983.