Highly skilled baton twirling has become a tradition for the Hawkeyes, as exemplified by former Golden Girl Diana Reed, who first created the twirling classes. In auditions, candidates for Reed's replacement as the new Golden Girl had to demonstrate not only twirling skills but teaching skills.
Russell, a freshman studying English who is also working on obtaining a certificate in entrepreneurship through the UI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurship Center, won the title and is settling in nicely to the role. She has been teaching since the age of 15, following in the footsteps of her mother and coach Kelli Russell, 1979's Miss New York and the first woman ever to win the talent portion of Miss America for twirling.
Russell's baton-twirling skills have taken her across the globe, with travels to Japan, England, France and Peru, where she has done charity work.
Increasing the level of twirling in Iowa will take much time and effort, but Russell said that she's willing to invest the time to make this happen. The young twirlers in her class already show off their skills in the UI Homecoming parade, but Russell wants them to do more performing.
Russell's twirling career began at the age of 3 in Williamsville, N.Y., and it has won her numerous awards and championships, including the title of Miss Majorette of America in 2006. She maintains that twirling is a huge part of who she is and will continue to be part of her life after college.
"Once you get into the baton world you never get out," Russell said.
Most classes begin with a warm-up for the wrists and arms before moving to more complex and intricate maneuvers as the students progress. Students working in pairs are able to exchange batons in mid-air and toss them up over one another's heads, catching them with a grin and a giggle.
Russell said the best part about teaching is when the kids have fun. "When the kids work hard and get a hard trick, the look on their faces is so great," Russell said.
Her current students range in ages from 4 to 13, but classes are open to all ages. Russell also offers private lessons on Sundays and teaches in Williamsburg on Wednesday evenings.
Beginning and intermediate classes at the UI Field House start at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and are held once per week. The cost is $32 per four-week session. The last day to sign up for the next session is Thursday, Feb. 21, and registration takes place at the UI Field House.
For more information, contact Chelsea Russell at email@example.com. For a complete schedule, visit http://www.recserv.uiowa.edu/programs/lesson/index.htm#baton.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACTS: Chelsea Russell, UI Recreational Services, 319-335-9293, firstname.lastname@example.org; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077, email@example.com; Writer, Jenna Ely; video by Jay Knoll