Kohana Taylor lives by the old adage that practice makes perfect.
So the seven-year-old Pizzazz Baton Club member and Winona Elementary School Grade 2 student was more than ready to impress when she hit the stage for the Canadian National Baton Twirling Association’s national championships July 4 to 6 at Conestoga College in Kitchener.
Kohana, who receives baton instruction twice a week at Tansley Woods Community Centre in Burlington and then rehearses routines regularly at home, twirled her way to two first-place finishes at the event.
She won the title of Solo Champion in the novice primary division and Miss Majorette of Canada, which combines a solo score, strut score and a modelling category.
Kohana and her club partner Emily Erskin also twirled their way to a second-place finish in the duet event.
“This was my second trip to the national championships,” she said. “I got second in solo and third in Miss Majorette
at the championships last year, so it felt really good to get two first-place finishes at the event this time.”
Kohana qualified for the national championships after competing in the provincial championships in May at Brock University in St. Catharines.
She twirled her way to two second-place finishes at the provincials — one in solo, the other in the Miss Majorette of Ontario competition.
Kohana took on a total of 21 girls from across Canada at the nationals.
“I was a little nervous at the national championships,” she said. “There were a lot of people there, but it was really exciting. And I got to see some of my friends.”
Baton twirling is an activity involving the manipulation of a metal rod and the human body to a coordinated routine.
It combines dance and gymnastics while manipulating a single baton or multiple batons and is primarily performed with the accompaniment of music.
Kohana first picked up a baton at age three.
She has been competing with the metal rod for about two years.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s hard sometimes too,” Kohana said. “Some of the tricks are really hard, so I have to practise them over and over. I can do finger twirls, thumb tosses, palm spins, wrist rolls and double arm rolls.”
When Kohana is not receiving baton instruction at the community centre under the direction of coach Amy Genton, she’s tumbling her way through cheerleading lessons at All Star Athletics in Beamsville.
“A lot of the stuff I do with baton twirling includes gymnastics, so it’s good to learn how to do different moves,” she said. “I do baton on Mondays and Tuesdays and I do cheerleading on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I always do my homework as soon as I get home from school, so I can have time to practise everything.”
Baton twirling runs in the Taylor family.
Kohana’s mom Shasta started twirling at age three.
She competed in 1997 at the world level and brought home a bronze medal for Team Canada. She’s now an instructor at the community centre.
Asked how long she wants to manoeuvre the metal rod, Kohana said, “I want to become a professional baton twirler, just like my mom.”