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This article was published 16/5/2014 (2688 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A provincial baton team is hoping to twirl its way to England this summer.
Team Toba — which currently comprises of members from Greendell (St. Vital) and Aerial Fusion (East Kildonan and Transcona) — is preparing to travel to Saskatoon, Sask. for the Canadian Team Trial Championships, which will be held from Fri., May 16 to Mon., May 19.
Dana Peteleski, one of the team’s coaches, said the winners of the championships will get the chance to represent Canada at the Baton Twirling World Championships, which will be held in Nottingham, England, in August.
The St. Vital resident, a former competitive twirler who has twice represented Canada at previous world championships, said her role as a coach means she can pass the baton — both literally and figuratively — and help channel her experiences to the current of crop of talented twirlers in the province.
"It’s really nice to be able to help them as athletes and it’s nice to be able to pass on my experiences," Peteleski said. "It’s great to be part of a sport that has both individual and team elements. It also helps foster teamwork and friendship and camaraderie, as well as promoting physical activity and the benefits of staying active."
St. Vital resident Milana Schipper, 19, is looking forward to competing at her first national team trial event in a sport she discovered almost by accident.
"I went to register for basketball and saw a baton twirling demonstration and I thought it was so bizarre and amazing that — of course — I left with a baton in my hand," Schipper said, with a laugh. "Part of the appeal of baton twirling for me is that it’s a combination of gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and dance."
Schipper, who is studying for a double major in Spanish and linguistics at the University of Manitoba, told The Lance she’s filled with a mixture of emotions as she prepares to travel east with the team.
"Right now, it’s a big combination of terror, excitement and pride, especially as it’s my first time. This is a really, really big step up in level, so I just hope we do Manitoba proud. This will be intimidating, but so it should be."
And while Schipper concedes baton twirling might not have the same mainstream appeal as other North American sports such as hockey, baseball, basketball or football, she believes some individuals might be surprised by the excitement levels of the sport if they take the time to check it out.
"It’s really wonderful to be able to spread the word about baton twirling. In terms of being a spectator, I definitely see it as being as competitive and exciting as other sports. And as a competitor, your job is to work with your teammates and do the best routine you can."
Teammate Sara Sabeski, 17, is also excited about competing on the big stage and hopes to do Manitoba proud.
"I’m looking forward to competing at a higher level and we want to be able to stand our ground against other provinces," said Sabeski, who lives in St. Vital. "You have to be fit and really active and baton twirling teaches you about individual discipline, as well as working as a team."
The Glenlawn Collegiate student, who has now been twirling for 11 years, first became interested in the sport after watching some twirlers in action.
"It was about the thrill of it. I loved watching everyone toss the baton up and seeing the smiles on their faces."
To learn more, go online at www.manitobabaton.com
The Lance community journalist
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Canstar’s senior reporter, he joined the team in June 2009 to write for The Sou’wester, which was then the new paper in the Canstar family.