Wheaton Twirl Team Aims High in World Competition (PHOTOS & VIDEO)
It’s a typical March evening at the Discovery Sports Center in Germantown where every court inside the complex has a pickup basketball game- all expect one court where about 20 baton twirlers are putting the finishing touches on routines that are taking them to a world championship in Italy.
The Wheaton Dance Twirl team is heading to Lignano, Italy for the World Federation of National Baton Twirling Associations championship in a few weeks. The group has qualified in several team level competitions and individual events.
Coach Annie Kennedy said the group has been working hard to return to the world event- they qualified three years ago the last time it was held.
Wheaton Twirl has been around since 1959 born out of a fire department parade troupe. It’s evolved into a team that trains in gymnastics, ballet and dance as well as twirling.
The group often practices at the Plex in Germantown making use of its high ceilings for the tricks that require the batons to launch 30 feet in the air. Other times you can find the groups at some of the Montgomery County Public Schools’ gyms.
“What I want people to know about this sport is that is may look easy but that is because we spend seven days a week working on it,” said Jonathan Burkin, a team member. Burkin, 24, is a world champion in the sport and also a top 11 finisher in the TV show America’s Got Talent.
His duet partner Melissa Nugent, 20 of Damascus, says the pair works well together and she’s looking forward to the trip to Italy.
“I really love doing what we do. It is fun. It is hard but it is fun,” she said.