Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | Members of Evolution Twirls (based in Shreveport, LA) will be competing for team and individual at the Central Region Baton Twirling Championships this weekend at Northwood High School in Shreveport.

SHREVEPORT – Athletes from Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas will demonstrate their skill in the sport of baton twirling as they compete in the Central Region Baton Twirling Championships, on Friday and Saturday, June 8 and 9, at Northwood High School, located at 5939 Old Moorinsport Road.

The competition will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. The competition is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Central Region Baton Council and sanctioned by the U.S. Twirling Association (USTA).

More than 200 athletes who range in age from three to 25 will compete for regional titles in group and individual events, such as Solo; Dance Twirl, which combines twirling with dance and gymnastics; and 2 and 3 Baton, where the athletes use multiple batons.

“Many people have an outdated perception of twirlers as the ‘majorettes’ of the 50’s and 60’s.” said USTA coach and contest director Lori Perkins. “But today’s twirlers are both athletes and artists, demonstrating many of the same skills and qualities as competitive runners, gymnasts and skaters.”

Many of the athletes who will be competing this weekend are preparing for the 60th Anniversary U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships, to be held July 8-14 in Jacksonville, Florida.

In addition, athletes Adaline Bebo, Michael Lopez, Keragan Ogden and Emily Perkis are members of Team USA and will represent the U.S. at the World Baton Twirling Championships, which will be held August 2-5, 2018, at the Osceola Heritage Park Silver Spur Arena. Nearly 200 of the world’s best sport baton twirlers from 17 countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Italy and Japan, will compete for bronze, silver and gold medals in the twirling equivalent of the Olympic Games.

Perkins says the reason baton twirling appeals to young people is that it’s fun and unique, but parents like the fact that it’s a healthy activity.

“Twirling is an aerobic sport that promotes physical fitness and fights childhood obesity,” said Perkins. “It also helps young people develop positive self-esteem and valuable life skills, such as goal- setting, self-discipline and time management.”

Baton twirling is also an affordable activity, something that’s especially appealing to many families.

“All kids need to get started is a pair of tennis shoes and a baton, which can cost as little as $20,” said Perkins. “Twirling classes and competitions are also reasonably priced, especially when compared to competitive dance or sports that require expensive equipment or facilities.”

For more information about the sport of baton twirling, visit www.ustwirling.com.