Warrior Profile: Ami Hawley, world class baton twirler


“Seriously?  Is nobody paying attention to this? This is awesome. C’mon, guys.  Check that out,” I spoke to my friends as we sat in the bleachers watching the cheerleaders’ halftime show during one of the last basketball games this year. I was pointing over to the side of the gym, where a girl, donning a shiny mint-green tutu, was baton twirling. Though I’d never seen the art in person, it looked surreal and the batons seemed to defy gravity. What I didn’t know is that she was warming up for her very own halftime show, and by then I didn’t have to tell anyone to watch what she was doing.

Ami Hawley, a junior, has been baton twirling since she was in first grade. A friend invited her to a baton twirling club and since then, she hasn’t looked back. Her first public performance was about a year after she began, and since then she’s done a lot more besides performing at Cleveland. Her biggest crowd to date was 30,000 people at OSU’s Reser Stadium during halftime. As for her Cleveland performances, she began this year for football games.

“It was a big deal for me,” she says. “I was actually way more scared to twirl in front of the school than perform in front of 30,000 people.”

She’d been thinking about the idea of twirling in front of her school since she was 12, and after a few conversations with Jan Watt, band teacher Dan Foster and athletic director Mike Shanahan, she was able to get a spot.

As much as she loves performing, this junior also loves competing. Hawley has attended two national championships, one in Florida and one in California. “Why I practice so much is to get a place in nationals,” she says proudly.

She was also recently accepted into a team in Japan, where she visits every summer for family. The country is currently rated highest in the world for baton twirling, which should fare very well for Hawley. She is also the 2014 Junior State Champion for dance-twirl, which combines dancing and baton twirling, and solo, which is what she displayed at the halftime show with two batons. In 2013, she won the “Strut” Junior State Championship, which combines ballet and baton twirling.

Aside from baton twirling, she is also a very avid dancer, practicing five days a week. Her repertoire includes ballet, hip-hop dancing, jazz dancing and even gymnastics, along with baton twirling. Her plans to continue her arts are mostly for fun, as she doesn’t wish to dance or twirl professionally. College-wise, she has her eye on OSU since the Ducks don’t have a baton twirling program. More immediately, she wishes to be able twirl fire batons next year during halftime shows at Cleveland, which I think we can all agree would be amazing to watch. Apparently this year the school vetoed the idea, even with the Fire Department’s approval. “We’ll figure that out next year,” she says with a laugh and hope. I hope so too, as that sounds insanely awesome.

A lot of Hawley’s influences include world champions, whom she’s had the pleasure to meet, and she wants to thank Watt and Shanahan for helping her perform. Some advice she wishes to give other athletes and performers is, “You just have to have fun and remember why you’re doing that sport in the first place. You’re not doing it because you want the trophy, I mean, some people might, I do it because it’s fun and I just love seeing the people’s reactions when I twirl and I every time I perform it reminds of why I’m doing baton in the first place; to see the smiles and reactions of the people that watch me.”

The reactions are well-deserved and wherever she does decide to perform, she will definitely always have that covered.