A trio of high-energy 10-year-olds are twirling their way to success in a sport fairly new to the Sackville area.
The three girls - Payton Harper, Sophi Boomer-Searle and Tesfa Cruttwell – have been traveling the Maritimes this year and earning some ribbons and trophies as part of Club Baton Atlantik’s pre-competitive baton twirling group.
Just this past weekend, the three Sackville students competed at the New Brunswick provincials in Moncton – with Tesfa placing first in pre-competitive Level 1, Payton earning fourth in Level 2, and Sophia bringing home a sixth-place finish in Level 2.
The young competitors love the sport, which is described as a combination of baton twirling, dance and gymnastics.
“I like the different routines and the twirling . . . oh, and I love all the costumes,” says Sophi, whose been with the club for two years.
Sophi’s favourite competitive event is the pre-medley, where participants perform five basic body elements (turn, kick, leap, lunge, spin) with proper body technique, all to a standard piece of music.
“It’s harder to learn than the others but you can progress a lot in it.”
Tesfa, who has also been involved for two years, says she was introduced to baton twirling during a bring-a-friend night and has stuck with it ever since.
“I just really liked it,” she says. “And I liked twirling the baton even though I wasn’t very good at the time.”
Club Baton Atlantik, which has a studio based in Moncton, offers recreational, pre-competitive and competitive classes in several other New Brunswick locations, including Sackville.
Brenda Arsenault LeBlanc, who has been coaching for 35 years, said she made the decision to expand the club into Sackville about two years ago after a request from her former student, Payton, who wanted to return to the sport she loved.
Payton had been attending baton classes in Moncton prior to moving to Aulac but couldn’t keep commuting because of the distance once they relocated.
“So her mom said to me, you should try something here in Sackville,” says LeBlanc.
Payton says she was disappointed she had to quit baton because she enjoyed it so much, having been involved in the sport since the age of four.
“I missed it a lot. I just wanted to do baton again.”
So the coach decided to work with her student to test out the interest in the Sackville area, handing out flyers during the town’s annual Fall Fair parade followed up by several trial classes. Those first few classes drew enough students to start classes, which have been going steady ever since.
LeBlanc has praise for all three competitors, saying they are a joy to train.
“Payton brings the best out in everyone and supports her fellow teammates,” she says. “Tesfa brings excitement to the club and is a ray of sunshine. And Sophi is a hard worker and a team player.”
Their practices run Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and although a new spring session has already gotten under way, the coach encourages anyone who is interested in coming out to a class to contact her for a free trial session (firstname.lastname@example.org). Recreational (learn to twirl for four years and older) classes run for the first hour while pre-competitive classes go for the two hours.