Twirling all the way to Sweden
Sophia Barden has won several national championships in baton twirling, but never a world title.
Next week, Barden, 15, will represent the United States while competing for a world title in Helsingborg, Sweden.
“That was my primary goal of the year, to make to the world championships for the first time,” Barden said. “It was stressful, because by setting my expectations so high it pushed me to work harder to achieve my goal. It was good, though. I’m excited. I’ve competed internationally before, but never at the world championships.”
Barden, a sophomore at Oak Ridge, will miss the first week-and-a-half of school while competing, but the experience will be worth it for a girl who has spent the last 10 years twirling a baton. Barden is the daughter of Craig and Cynthia, who also twirled baton when she was younger.
“My mom was a champion when she was younger so I’m following in her footsteps,” Barden said. “I’ve been twirling since I was 5. It’s a unique sport so that makes it fun to show others what I can do. Just like any other sport, I like accomplishing goals I set for myself.”
Barden’s long-term goal is to earn a college scholarship, which is certainly within reach of this 4.0 grade-point-average student.
“There are scholarship offers for it and there aren’t a lot of people out there to get them, so getting a scholarship is a goal of mine,” Barden said.
Barden is coming off an impressive performance at the 58th U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships held in Mobile, Ala. July 10-16. Barden placed first and won national titles in three categories: baton solo, baton strut and dance twirl. She had previously won state and regional titles in all three categories as well. Baton solo is twirling one baton in a stationary position; baton strut involves movement and keeping specific counts, while dance twirl combines dance moves with twirling.
In 10 years of twirling, Barden estimates she’s won 15 national championships.
Barden also plays soccer on Oak Ridge’s varsity girls’ team, as well as with her competitive team with the Ethos Soccer Club.