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Photo courtesy of Kathy Catterson
Photo courtesy of Kathy Catterson
Trina Catterson holds her baton and wears a medal after her team, Encore, advanced to the World Championships.

A decorated baton twirler from Glendale who has spent her entire life competing in the sport is heading to the world’s biggest stage yet again.

Trina Catterson, a senior at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, will make her third trip to the World Baton Twirling Championships in Kissimmee, Florida, from Aug. 1 to 5. Catterson and her team, Encore, earned the right to represent Team USA when they won the national trials in Shelbyville, Indiana, on March 24 and 25.

Baton twirling has been a lifelong passion for Catterson, who first picked up a baton when she was 4 years old, and she said her competitive nature has always driven her to reach new heights with her baton.

I’ve always enjoyed the competitive aspect of it,” Catterson said. “I just fell in love with the sport from the start and all the experiences that came along with it.”

Catterson’s exposure to the sport and her natural affinity for it go hand-in-hand. Her mother, Kathy Catterson, started baton-twirling in the 1970s, competed in local competitions and eventually became a twirling coach. As a toddler, Trina Catterson would stand in the background at her mother’s classes and absorb everything.

That’s why by the age of 6, Catterson had already won her first national competition.

I would say at 4 you could tell by her motor skills and wrist flexibility, she could move that baton like nothing, like butter,” Kathy Catterson said. “Being that I was a coach and baton twirler myself, you don’t usually see that develop until later on.”

Baton twirling has since led Catterson to all parts of the country and beyond, which she said is one of her favorite parts about the experience. In 2012, she competed in her first World Championship in Villebon sur Yvette, France, where she won a bronze medal in the junior pairs competition, and in 2014 she competed in the World Championship in England.

Today, Catterson flies to Ohio every few weeks to train with her Encore teammates who hail from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida, to name a few. Kathy Catterson said the girls have formed a very strong bond that was clear with the way they performed at the national trials. But advancing to the finals may not have been the most special part about the team.

Baton-twirling routines are scored on a 100-point scale based on the difficulty of the routine, how the team uses the floor, what tricks are being done, how the team works as a group and, of course, there are deductions for dropping batons. Another factor of the score, however, is artistic expression and how the team portrays its theme.

According to Catterson, team Encore’s competition routine has a heartfelt message.

“It’s a tribute to all the terrorist attacks and how at the end we all overcome it to work together as one,” Catterson said. “It was our coaches that came up with it, but when it comes to performing it, it was us that said we need to commit to the theme to really portray the theme and it was a hard process.”

Catterson described that the music and choreography in the routine are meant to reflect the different emotions experienced during these tragedies, and the twirlers have to use their facial expressions to bring the performance to life.

In the months leading up to the World Championship, Catterson is already focusing on her future after that. On April 14, she will travel to Arizona State University, where she has committed to go to college, and try out to be the majorette for the school’s marching band. For Catterson it would be a dream come true, she said, and for her mom it would be her proudest moment yet.

“Twirling for thousands of football fans in the stadium and hearing those cheer with school pride, what a proud mom I would be,” Kathy Catterson said. “I hope her dream comes true. She’s a wonderful person who deserves it.”

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