Q&A with baton twirling medalist Ireland Jones

Cady Armstrong

Sophomore Ireland Jones, center, holds her first place trophy as she is announced as USTA National 1 & 2 Baton Champion. This year, all twirling competitions occured virtually over Zoom or through video submission. (Submitted Photo: Ireland Jones)

How did you get involved with baton twirling?

I honestly think I was just born into the sport. I first started at the age of 4-and-a-half but my first competition was when I was 5 years old. My grandma actually took me to a coach that she coached.

What are your goals as a baton twirler?

Right now, I’m working on a three baton routine (and) a few specialized tricks. I am also working towards defending my title at USDA nationals 2021 (and) I am geared up to start drilling at halftime during the Carmel High School basketball game.

How do you train for baton twirling?

Every day, I try to practice for around two to three hours. It varies based on where I’m at, either my gym, just staying at home, totally outside on the concrete, or even inside of my living room. My sister and I push each other (to stay motivated). We are very best friends and I think practicing together has only made us closer.

Do you plan on continuing with baton twirling beyond high school?

Yes, I’m hoping to go on to college at a university, possibly Purdue University, maybe even Louisville in Kentucky, with a full-ride scholarship hopefully as a feature twirler. After that, I will most likely retire and give back to the (baton twirling) community by either judging or coaching.

Jones, right, poses for a photographer in front of CHS in her competition attire. She said twirling taught her a lot of discipline and communication. (Submitted Photo: Ireland Jones)

What would you say to someone who’s considering taking up baton twirling?

I would say the sport definitely requires lots and lots of time, discipline, consistency and dedication. I mentioned earlier that I practice for about two to three hours a day, and sometimes that can be a lot and overwhelming, but if you want to be good at something that is what it requires. No matter what you go through, no matter how many times you get injured lose get yelled at or just want to quit, just keep pushing through at all, because, in the end, it will work out. And it will all pay off, (so) be ready for the most unique experience of your life. (It) will bring you so much joy, anxiety, frustration, exhilaration, friendships, competitiveness, and most of all create some of the greatest memories of your life, because baton twirling aids in shaping your character and your overall personality.

What would you say to your past self who wanted to give up twirling?

Never give up. If you give up, you will never get to experience those little moments of being in a competition with your friends or the memories you would have gone on to make.

How do you think baton twirling has impacted your life?

It has taught me many life skills. There are times and you lose and there are times when you win, but my coach told me that after every competition you start over. You constantly push yourself to do better. You have to learn how to lose graciously and win humbly at the end of the day, our goal is to just be the best version of yourself that you can be. (Baton twirling) is very competitive and it has made me a competitive person which I like, and it allows me to stand up for myself and be a better person.