Freshman Ashleigh Henderson and her journey with twirling

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Freshman Ashleigh Henderson and her journey with twirling

Posing with her baton, freshman Ashleigh Henderson twirls with the band and recently helped actors prepare for a performance of Pippin.

Posing with her baton, freshman Ashleigh Henderson twirls with the band and recently helped actors prepare for a performance of Pippin.

Photo by: Lane Phifer

Posing with her baton, freshman Ashleigh Henderson twirls with the band and recently helped actors prepare for a performance of Pippin.

Photo by: Lane Phifer

Photo by: Lane Phifer

Posing with her baton, freshman Ashleigh Henderson twirls with the band and recently helped actors prepare for a performance of Pippin.

Story by Ashlan Brooks and Lane Phifer

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Standing in front of the band in purple, white and silver, freshman Ashleigh Henderson spins and manipulates a baton. Her smile is carefully in place and her hands steady from years of experience. The stadium lights catch the slim rod as it twirls and dips through the air, the drum beats and melodic trills of the band accentuating every toss.

Since 6th grade, Henderson has performed with her baton at competitions and most recently, for an audience of students and community members during half time at home football games. 

“This is my fourth year twirling. My mom used to be a twirler at Girard High School and she made me do it. I really enjoy it,” Henderson said. “Twirling is kind of a mix of dance and gymnastics, you just add a baton in there.”

Her newest project as feature twirler was teaching theater students how to twirl for their Pippin performance. Henderson is no stranger to being a performer herself. 

She competes on one of the two teams in Kansas. From these competitions, she has won many awards.

“For my division there’s not that many people because a lot of people, when they twirl, start twirling really young. It’s easier to get awards so I have some [awards] for solo.”

Being the feature twirler, Henderson has made it a point to try to be on the sidelines of every home football game and has recently decided to pursue twirling for the basketball game audiences as well. One of the perks of twirling is the people you meet.

“I will say it’s been a little stressful at times,” Henderson said. “But the friendships and experiences that I’ve gotten out of [twirling] have been a lot of fun.”