HP Bagpipe

HP Bagpipe

HP Bagpipe

Freshman, Sophomore Twirlers Overcome Obstacles To Pursue Passion

Students share details on what goes into twirling performances.
Photo by Matteo Winandy
At the homecoming pep rally, sophomore Karianne Grove-Collins performs her baton twirling routine for the entire student body. Although Grove-Collins normally performs solo, she and Tafel are planning a duet for the upcoming blacklight pep rally. “I think having another twirler in general is great for representation and gives opportunities to showcase more twirling. Mimi and I have been twirling together for five years and are really close, so it’s great to have her out there with me,” Grove-Collins said.

Dressed in a sparkling outfit, baton in hand, sophomore Karianne Grove-Collins steps out onto the gym floor to cheers and applause. She stands at the center and waits. Then, the music starts and her performance begins.

The crowd roars as she twirls her baton in the air and watches it land safely in her hands. 

This is the feeling sophomore Karianne Grove-Collins has experienced and loved ever since she began her twirling career. Grove-Collins started twirling four years ago, inspired by her older sister.

“I just joined and never stopped,” she said.

Her favorite part of twirling is the people that she gets to work with and meet through practices and competitions. 

“[I like] interacting with little kids,” Grove-Collins said. “I [also] like contest season because I get to be with friends” 

During pep rallies, she performs solo in front of the student body, and at UIL competitions, and at other twirling competitions, she performs in front of judges. However, the pandemic disrupted her training and performances because of quarantine.

 “Quarantine was definitely a challenge because there wasn’t anything to look forward to,” Grove-Collins said. “[I] just [had]to find the motivation to work through it,”

The success of one twirler at pep rallies led to the decision to also include freshman Mimi Tafel. Tafel twirls in the same group as Grove-Collins and they perform together at school events.

When you’re in the middle of the second song you’re dying inside, it takes a lot of stamina. You’d be surprised.

— Mimi Tafel

Tafel first began twirling through a pageant mentorship program.

 “One of the girls that was one of my mentors [did] twirling, and I thought I really wanted to try it,” Tafel said. “I ended up going to one of the little clinics that one of our twirling coaches had, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Tafel’s favorite part of twirling so far has been performing at football games, as the atmosphere is very different from pep rallies.

“[I really like] the football games and the energy, it’s so fun”.

However, performing for long periods of time with a routine in front of tons of people can be a very tiring task. 

“When you’re in the middle of the second song you’re dying inside, it takes a lot of stamina. You’d be surprised,” she said. 

Aside from the challenge of stamina, she has also had various injuries that make it harder to practice and perform. 

“Currently I have a torn hamstring and my foot is also fractured, but you can pretty much get away with it because with a torn hamstring, I can just switch sides and just change your routines to that.” Tafel said. 

Tafel and Grove-Collins also dealt with the death of their coach last December which led them to reevaluate whether they should continue twirling. Tafel even quit for eight months, but it was her late coach’s advice that convinced her to keep going.

 “The thing that she taught me the most was that you can’t be a quitter,” Tafel said. “You cannot quit no matter what.” 

Their current coach and the daughter of their former coach, Sheila Payne-Rigelsky, has known the twirlers since they were young. 

“Both girls are very hardworking and determined young ladies,” Payne-Rigelsky said. “They both work the hardest they can and have great senses of humor”. 

Twirling has been a long journey for Grove-Collins with its fair share of ups and downs, but she encourages girls who are interested in twirling to pursue it. 

“Go for it,” Grove-Collins said. “There’s nothing stopping you, it’s a lot of fun [and] there’s no reason not to do it.”

About the Contributor
Camden Coale
Camden Coale, Reporter
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