Showing off their spin control
Pre-game, halftime activity takes center stage
When Hope Heffern was 10 years old, she couldn't wait to play softball. But allergies interfered and ended her playing days before they even started.
To temper her daughter's disappointement, her mother Cindy Light knew she would have to find a replacement activity for her daughter. Something that could take the place of her daughter's favorite sport.
That's when she remembered just how much fun she had throwing and twirling a baton when she was about that age.
Now, 20 years later, both Heffern and Light are still involved in twirling.
Though neither performs anymore, they assure other twirlers in Kansas and other states around the region the opportunity to compete at the Kansas State Twirling Championships.
Since 1988, Light has the steered the twirling championships to De Soto High School every three years. The event is also held in Salina and Girard on a rotating basis.
"It prepares you on how to present yourself well," Light said of her favorite activity. "Twirling teaches you how to sell yourself."
Though Light was the director at this year's championships, she was quick to point out she couldn't have done it without the services of others, especially Heffern and judge and friend, Ann Durkin, who coached Heffern when she competed.
Durkin, who now is a twirling judge out of Fort Collins, Colo., not only judged the championships last weekend but also arrived early to help set up the lane assignments and help out any other way she could.
"She did so much," Light said of her friend. "We emailed each other back-and-forth before the weekend, so we could get everything set up. I couldn't have done this without her."
Heffern acted as a clerk for Durkin during the weekend, making sure score sheets were tabulated correctly.
According to Light, the championship was run according to the guidelines of the National Baton Twirling Association.
Though the championships were open to competitors belonging to other twirling organizations, Light said those twirlers may have been at a slight disadvantage since the solo events they normally compete in may not have been offered.
In order to put an emphasis on twirling skills, gymnastics were removed from the equation of this tournament.
"It used to be that the best gymnasts were winning all of the time," Light said Saturday during the tournament. "But this is a twirling event. There aren't going to be any gymnastics involved in the championships."
Missing from the championships this year was the feature twirler from Kansas University, Angelea Busby, who had a scheduling conflict with the Miss Kansas Pageant.
Busby, who has been named College Miss Majorette the past three years, was crowned Miss Kansas over the weekend by winning both the talent and interview portions of the competition.
Her talent was a show twirl to "Don't Rain on My Parade."
The only twirler with De Soto ties that competed at the state championships this year was Olathe North senior-to-be Natalie Brent. Brent, who attended De Soto as a freshman, took second place in the Miss Majorette of Kansas portion of the meet. She competed in the advanced division for ages 16-24.
The 17-year old said she started twirling at a young age when she saw another girl dancing and twirling at a recital.
"I thought it'd be one of those things you do for a year and move on," Brent said. "But I love it."
Brent trains at Lee's School of Dance under the tutelage of Heidi Jacobson when she's not competing. She gets a real kick out of making the crowd smile when she competes to an upbeat program.
But what she loves most about twirling is getting to see all of her Kansas friends.
"All of the girls are real nice," she said. "It's a real friendly competition. The girls from the other states seem to look at it as just a competition. But the girls from Kansas are always hoping for the best for each other."
The results of the Kansas State Twirling Championships and Miss Majorette of Kansas Competition: Miss Jayhawk: Ages 0-6 -- 1. Brianna Smull, Salina; 2. Keni Campbell, Salina; 3. Haley Rapp, Salina; 4. Cheyenne Nipko, Overland Park; 5. Callie Vessar, Salina; 6. Callie Peters, Salina; 7. Amy McClain, Overland Park; 8. Rylee Miller, Salina; 9. Jennifer Krier, Salina; 10. Brianna Fink, Salina; 11. Shannon Schumacher, Salina. Ages 7-9 -- 1. Morgan Rhue, Salina; 2. Ali Self, Andover; 3. Libby Lorenson, Salina; 4. Mattison Diener, Salina; 5. Adriana Livengood, Salina; 6. Faith Tyrell, Overland Park; 7. Amanda Patterson, Salina; 8. Cassandra Murry, Overland Park; 9. Mallory Brown, Salina. Ages 10-12 -- 1. Lacey Jones, Salina; 2. Shawnee Viets, Girard; 3. Katy Gorentz, Salina; 4. Michaela Fink, Salina; 5. Amanda Hansen, Salina; 6. Canese Jarboe, Girard. Miss Majorette of Kansas: Beginner Ages 0-6 -- 1. Aubrey Myer, Overland Park; 2. Shelby Schumacher, Salina. Beginner Ages 7-9 -- 1. Ashley Little, Salina; 2. Taylor Harner, Salina. Beginner Ages 10-12 -- 1. Alesha Edwards, Salina; 2. LeAnna Gerhardt, Salina; 3. Jessica Patterson, Salina; 4. Shannon Hansen, Salina. Beginner Ages 13-15 -- 1. Tabitha Bever, McCune; 2. Amber Siebert, Girard; 3. Becky Breer; 4. Roxanna Grimm, Overland Park; 5. Sarah Keller, Overland Park; 6. Trisha Whisler, Salina. Intermediate Ages 7-9 -- 1. Lauren Meis, Salina; 2. Martika Chappell, Salina; 3. Haley Hlad, Salina. Intermediate Ages 10-12 -- 1. Ann Rene Braun, Fort Scott; 2. Danielle Self, Andover; 3. Halie Dawe; 4. Carly Lallemand; 5. Leah Mahanay, Salina. Intermediate Ages 13-15 -- 1. Belinda Post, Topeka; 2. Alexa Keller, Salina; 3. Jeni Casey; 4. Shanett Falkin, Girard; 5. Anna Hlad, Salina; 6. Casey Bradshaw, . Intermediate Ages 16-24 -- 1. Logan DeLange, Girard; 2. Christa Johnson, Salina. Advanced Ages 10-12 -- 1. Hailey Higginbotham, Overland Park. Advanced Ages 16-24 -- 1. Jennifer Jones, Salina; 2. Natalie Brent, Olathe; 3. Mikki Bendt, Girard; 4. Kourtney Peak, Girard. College Miss Majorette -- 1. Kassie Pike, Manhattan.