Twirlers joined together in a fun weekend of competition and learning at the Mid-America Celebration of Twirling contest and twirling clinic held in Omaha, Nebraska, November 6th and 7th. Sue Foehlinger, director of Sue’s Stepper-ettes Baton, Pom and Tumbling Studio, has hosted the Mid-America contest and clinic for 13 years.
Over 160 twirlers participated in the Mid-America contest from thirteen states and Canada including Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, California, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Arkansas, Illinois and Minnesota.
Saturday’s contest was an exciting day of high energy twirling as competitors enter the 2004-2005 twirling season. High point solo twirlers in the Novice, Beginner and Intermediate divisions were invited to twirl at the clinic on Sunday. Winners included, Taylor Eckes in the Novice division, Sammie Wylie in the Beginner division and Leah Woodland in the Intermediate division.
First and second place winners in the advanced solo division twirled-off for the Grand Champion Title. Brooke Walter was named the Advanced Solo Mid-America Grand Champion and performed at Sunday’s clinic.
In addition to the solo events, many twirlers competed in team events. The Stepper-ette Primary Halftime was named highest point team also having an opportunity to show their team spirit at the Mid-America clinic.
Planning and Directing the Mid-America Contest
TwirlZone asked Foehlinger what is the driving force that motivates her to hold the Mid-America contest every year. Foehlinger says, “This competition bridges National competition and spring events, giving twirlers something to look forward to and prepare for”. Foehlinger adds the clinic the following day provides students with new material to work on over the winter.
Foehlinger begins preparing for this event four months in advanced; booking the gym, lining up judges and planning the entry. The last three weeks before the event are very hectic. Every spare minute is dedicated to making sure all contest items are in line. Foehlinger relies on team members and their parents to get involved on the day of the event and the weeks leading up to the event to make it a successful contest and clinic.
Every year, Foehlinger selects two or three judges new to the Mid-America competition and clinic experience. When choosing judges Foehlinger attempts to pull from the north, south, east and west brining together many different twirling styles to this highly attended contest in centrally located Nebraska.
Three years ago, Foehlinger introduced a trick demonstration event for class students new to twirling competitions. Every year, this event becomes more popular. Twirlers participating in the trick demonstration event perform basic twirls and tricks in front of a judge for a rating. This is a first step to a solo routine for many twirlers, allowing them to gain confidence and decide if they want to pursue open competition.
Similar to other contest directors, Foehlinger has moved away from trophies to a plaque award system for this contest. Plaques were given at the beginning of the day to all participants. A plate to mount on the plaque was given for events in which the twirler placed. Throughout the day, parents and judges commented the awards take up less space in the car for travelers and are a nice memory of the event.
On Sunday, more than half of the judging staff changed into comfortable twirling attire to teach at a full day clinic providing new routine material for twirlers. This years teaching staff included, Lindsey Colen from Maryland, Kim Evans from Iowa, Dawn Halverfield from Wisconsin, Tim King from Arizona, Melissa Lankston from Iowa, Diana McClain from Kansas, Shannon Meis from Kansas, Mike Makauchi from California, Shelia Payne from Texas, Joanne Schlueter from South Dakota, Kandee Sell from Kansas and Brooke Walter from California.
New to the clinic this year, Foehlinger introduced awards in each session for Spirit, Hardest Worker and Most Improved.
The push for speed session was a favorite of several Kansas and Iowa twirlers. Several novice twirlers from the Stepper-ettes enjoyed a roll class learning fishtails and mouth rolls. Foehlinger says that the Dance Twirl routine is always a favorite!
TwirlZone would like to congratulate all of the Mid-America winners and participants for a great start to the twirling year. To share your experience or pictures from the Mid-America event or other twirling events please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or click here