The Topic for the 2022 Patsy Hamilton Memorial Essay Contest
How to enter: Write an essay (less than 500 words) Create a poem Produce a video (less than 2 minutes)
THEME: Who are your roles models in life and/or baton? Why are these role models important to you? What have you learned or taken away from these role models?
USTA COACH AND JUDGE With all submissions, please include athlete’s name and age. Age 0 to 9, 10-13 and 14+ will be awarded in each category
THE WINNING ESSAYS
Overall Winner: Cadence
The Importance of Smiling Big
One of the first things you learn as a competitive baton twirler is the importance of smiling big. No matter how big the fumble, or silly the drop, or how much of the routine you forgot even after all that practice. My mom would make me practice while beaming- all while repeating that, “It’ll be easier for you to do on the floor if you make it muscle memory.” She would say this to me, a 15-year-old girl at home on a Saturday evening, with the imprints of gravel tattooed on my palms from doing roughly one thousand cartwheels, and a dull pain in my right hip from an equal amount of illusions. And then, I’d smile.
While I understood the importance of showmanship in my sport, I never realized how much of that lesson would carry into my day-to-day life. Teachers would comment on my happiness, and gush about what a pleasure I was to have in class, and smiling soon became a part of me. Secondly, I never realized how much of her own advice my mom followed.
On Halloween in 2019, my parents came in and sat on my daisy-printed comforter to tell me that my mom had cancer. Ovarian Cancer. I wish I could have said something profound or deeply spiritual or even vaguely comforting at that moment, but I’m pretty sure all that came out of my mouth is, “what?”
My Mother, who could single-handedly corral three teenage girls and track down who exactly stole her tweezers, who could give me one glance that would send me into a full-on sprint to put on my beaten practice sneakers- cancer?
My parents then told me what was about to happen, what about my world was going to change- from the chemotherapy treatments to the way I would have to wear a mask inside the house, just to ensure everyday germs wouldn’t make their way into her fragile immune system. Until her very last day of treatment, which fell on my 17th birthday, my mom smiled. Every chemo treatment I would pick her up from on my way back from school, my driver’s license practically still burning a hole in my pocket from its newness, she would climb into my passenger’s seat, laugh at how I already had a buildup of three coffee cups in the trunk, and ask me how my day was. Me, a 16-year-old girl whose biggest concern was a history test, whose hardest day was easier than my Mother’s simplest.
Looking back, I never comprehended how much strength a smile can show, especially my Mother’s on those car rides. Since moving away for college, I call my mother about every single day and listen to her advice on everything life throws my way- professors and jobs and practice and football games, but no piece of advice even compares to her telling me to smile big, regardless of what life will throw at you.
Age 10-13 Winner: Josephine
I am lucky to have many people to look up to in my life. I am choosing three to talk about. These three are Savannah Miller, my mom, and my dance teacher Miss Carrie.Savannah Miller is someone I really look up to in baton twirling. The first time I saw her was oneof her solo routines on Youtube. I was amazed! Then last year I was there when she scored perfect 10’s. Watching her taught me that practicing hard and consistently pays off. I look up to her because she twirls very well and I want to twirl like she does some day. Savannah makes what she’s doing look easy, but I know it took a lot of practice. I love all her routines, they are so cool! Savannah is also very kind and fun to be around. She is friendly to everyone and I try to be that
My mom is someone I look up to in life. She is really patient with us. She sometimes makes mistakes and she points it out so that I know that when I make mistakes it is ok. I can laugh at myself and try again. She is a wonderful mom and I want to be like her when I grow up. My mom is a big support for me in baton and many other things in life. She also does what she can do to support me and I want to do that for my kids. She helps me with many things like baton, school, and baking or cooking.
Miss Carrie is my last person. She is my Lyrical teacher. She is very flexible and I really want to be flexible too. She is a very good teacher as well. She is patient. She is also a very kind teacher. Miss Carrie has a good imagination. She is teaching us a dance and I really enjoy it. These people are so wonderful and I want to be like all of them.
Age 14+ Winner: Kimika
Role Model Coach Paige
Paige Campbell is my role model because she helps our baton twirling team thrive in any condition. From the day I started baton, I knew that it was the start of a new adventure. I started at the age of four and it was my first ever sport. I remember I would always look up to Paige, and not just
because of my height, it was because Paige was and still is admirable.
As an athlete and an only child, I’ve always wanted to do right by those I admire. Every new hard trick was my goal, to pursue the next challenge, and Paige pushed me and the whole team to get better, which made her my role model.
During the pandemic, she kept us motivated, holding onto our rituals. We kept having once a week practices with the whole team on Zoom. Paige kept on the legacy. Many twirlers, especially those just starting out, could have easily quit baton during the pandemic. But you really find out what a
person is made of during emergency situations. Some people don’t step up, but the true role models do step up. That’s Paige.
The pandemic did not stop the whole team because Paige was always there and supportive of us. She cared about us and she gave us the will-power. We had a Shelter In Place club Facebook page where we held baton challenges and posted tricks and videos showing off our skills. Paige shaped the road for us to be able to strive and, in turn, we know how to lead others now.
Paige’s true colors are that she cares about the team and every member in it as people. Paige knows so much about baton and she makes it fun. Paige loves the sport and that makes us love the sport.
She looked at us as people. She knows what we’re going through. As a role model, she always kept us focused and encouraged a sense of community and family.
Paige taught me the significance of how Hard work pays off. Throughout the years she’s made me and always encouraged me to become the best of myself. I have learned from her that I need to take initiative and become the best version of myself.