Local Twirling Team Wins National Titles

Pictured left to right are Phoenix Superstar members: Sarah Ewart-Assistant Coach, Abbey Ruffell, Madelynn Cleis, Madelyn Barndt, Madysin Hewitt, Gabi Anaya, Heidi Ruffell and Becky Hewitt-Director

The Phoenix Superstars baton twirling team competed in America’s Youth On Parade this past month. The week long national competition was held at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana and is considered the “world series of baton twirling.” Six members of the Arizona Twirling Athletes, a non-profit youth organization for boys and girls ages 6-19 and their director, Becky Hewitt of Phoenix and assistant coach, Sarah Ewart of Gilbert accompanied the young team. Hewitt has been coaching the youth in Arizona for over 45 years and this event is always the highlight of the year. In early June she directs a camp in Litchfield Park at the Wigwam Resort to begin their training and then the following six weeks the youth practice three times a week for five hours a day. Her students compete in many individual solo events including 1, 2 and 3 baton juggling, strut, show twirl and flag as well as twirling on Duets and Twirl and Dance Twirl Teams.

For the third year in a row the Superstars brought home a first place in the Twirling Team Category by winning the Junior Beginner Twirl Team Division out of 30 other participating teams across the USA. Their Pre- Teen Twirl Team placed 9th. Three of the following members captured a first place in their solo flag divisions. (Madelyn Barndt age 15 and Gabi Anaya age 11 in the Intermediate Flag and Abbey Ruffell age 15 in the Novice Flag Division.)

Gabi Anaya, a 7th grader at Sonoran Trails Middle School and member of the Phoenix Superstars is displaying the five medals and trophy she won at the National Twirling Championships held at Notre Dame. She was always a member of the Jr. Twirl team that captured a national first.

A total of 22 medals were won by the 6 twirlers placing them in the top 10 twirlers of the USA in their respective ages and divisions.

The sport of baton twirling is still very unusual and takes a lot of practice and discipline. Many of our USA twirl members recently returned from the World Competition in France. This is the next goal the Superstars would like to achieve, but funds always come in play. The team recycles cans and bottles all year to help with the funding and performs in local parades, the Arizona State Fair and Glendale Glitters as well as nursing homes.

In September the Arizona Twirling Athletes will be offering learn to twirl classes at five local schools in the valley. For more information call Becky Hewitt Director at 602-743-2681 or visit their website at arizonatwirlingathletes.com.