After a few years of dormancy, the Starlight Destiny Baton Twirling Club has been revived in Halton Hills and one of its members has an impressive resume to toss around. Taylor Begg, 15, has been training with the Brampton-based Starlight Destiny Baton Club under coach and local native Susan (Thibodeau) Franklyn, who competed herself out of the Georgetown club until age 25. The enthusiastic Begg now doesn't have to travel to Brampton for the hours of practice each week as Franklyn has started up classes in Glen Williams, including a three month basic introductory program. Seven years ago, Begg and mother Maureen were walking past a school gym in Brampton and that's all it took for the local teen to get hooked. "We saw some people twirling and I was just amazed at what they could do," Begg stated. "Then my mom said, `Oh, I used to do that,' and I was shocked. So when we got home we looked up in the phone book for the number, and now..." Traveling to far-away competitions is something that the Grade 10 GDHS student loves about baton twirling and she's usually gone for a couple of weekends out of each month. This past summer, she won the NBTA Canadian championship in the individual 13-15 age group at Cambridge and teamed up with Brampton's Sarah Durocher to capture gold medals in the pairs/duet category. She also went to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., in July for one of the largest baton twirling competitions in the world, the American Youth On Parade. With her regular duet partner, Durocher, unable to attend the AYOP, Begg called on Nicole Boutin as a replacement. Despite little practice time together, the duo placed fifth out of the 40 duet routines with a drop-free round. Begg and Durocher finished no lower than first in any competition they've entered over the last year. Begg, Starlight Destiny's Sportsmanship Trophy winner for 2005-06, is looking forward to competitions in Halifax Oct. 28-29 and the 2007 Twirl Mania event in Orlando, Fla. in February, which she attended last season.
Her sights are ultimately set on the next world championships, to be held in 2009 in Belgium, and to earn a scholarship to a U.S. college as part of a varsity cheerleading team. Twirling at the elite level requires precision spinning manoeuvres with the baton while incorporating dance and gymnastics into the routine. Gravity is also an important factor after the twirler rolls out of a somersault and expects to cleanly catch the baton, only to have it leave a broken nose, chipped teeth, a black eye or body bruises. "No pain, no gain," Begg sighed. A new Georgetown resident and a Starlight Destiny teammate of Begg's, Jamie Webster, represented Canada at the 2006 world championships in Holland. Franklyn said she has about a half-dozen new members and hopes to restore the club's former competitive base of about 40 athletes. "We've had great success with the club in Brampton for the past four or five years and I'd like to expand it back into Georgetown," said Franklyn, a behavioural teacher assistant at Lincoln Alexander Secondary School in Brampton. "A lot of people don't know about (baton twirling) and we feel it's just a matter of getting it out there for the public to see us perform at the Santa Claus Parade and events like that." Classes for the new Halton Hills-based branch of Starlight Destiny are held Tuesdays at Glen Williams Public School from 6-7 p.m. For more information about the Starlight Destiny club, call 905-230-2849 or visit the website www.starlightdestiny.com.