Buckeyes with batons: Buckeye Twirl represents Ohio State on and off campus
Buckeye Twirl will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a trip to Disney World for an international competition.
The baton twirling team for Ohio State, which is now recognized as a sports club with both a competition and club team, had humble beginnings when it was founded as a student organization in 2012. The team went to its first national competition — American Youth on Parade in Indiana — with just four members in 2013, Brittany Lohmeyer, head coach and co-founder, said.
Now, Buckeye Twirl has approximately 10 members and is in the process of preparing for Twirl Mania, an annual, international, collegiate competition held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World Feb. 18-21, Marissa Fogg, president and captain of the club and team, respectively, said.
“We’re just super excited to go,” Fogg, a fourth-year in health sciences, said. “A lot of our girls have never been to Twirl Mania, so it’s a really great experience. It’s just super fun, especially with it being at Disney. It’s very lighthearted, and, while we’re still at a competition, we’re there to do well.”
The team members focus on being good teammates and developing as athletes, Fogg said. She said members of the team also find excitement in representing their school.
“Representing Ohio State and wearing my Buckeye Twirl jacket, or even my costume when we’re at competitions, and people come up to us and, oh my gosh, they almost treat us like celebrities,” Fogg said.
Buckeye Twirl has competed at Twirl Mania three times since 2016, Lohmeyer said. In previous years, Fogg said they have not placed very well.
However, Fogg said this may be in part because of the relatively small size of the team in past years. With bolstered numbers, she said the team’s hopes of achieving higher ranks have also increased.
“This routine has been in the works for a couple years now, so we’ve worked really, really hard this year,” Fogg said. “We’ve gotten a lot of input from other judges, from other coaches. So, this year I’m feeling really good about our routine and how we’ll compete at Disney.”
Lohmeyer said a win is not the only thing the team hopes to gain from this experience, as the bonding experience alone is worth the trip.
“Just allowing them to kind of go out with this amazing experience of getting to go back and represent Ohio State with a much larger team, a more advanced team,” Lohmeyer said. “Just to have that experience and have that bonding together is definitely something we’re hoping to walk away with.”
Though Buckeye Twirl has competed in some intense competitions, Fogg said the club and the competition team perform at numerous events in their own backyard, such as the Ohio State Homecoming Parade, Ohio State Relay for Life and some tailgates. However, Fogg said the team has its sights set on one coveted goal in particular.
“A lot of us, our goal is to get on that football field and get that recognition and be able to showcase some fieldwork,” Fogg said.
Lohmeyer said Ohio State is one of the only Big Ten schools that does not feature baton twirlers with the marching band. As a result, she said prospective twirlers do not tend to view Ohio State as an option if they want to continue twirling at the collegiate level.
“One of our main goals is to show the twirling community that Ohio State does have the top twirlers, despite not being on the field,” Lohmeyer said. “We are a huge part of the university.”
Kelsey Bitner, a first-year in math education, said Buckeye Twirl hosts a clinic once a semester to allow young twirlers to learn new tricks and get to know the team.
“This is our way to get to know them and show them that we are not just a little club,” Bitner said.
Much like the team itself, the Buckeye Twirl clinics have also grown in numbers, Fogg said. The last clinic, which was hosted in the fall of 2021, had approximately 50 young twirlers in attendance, and she said twirlers tend to come back year after year.
For some twirlers, getting to show people who they are and how far they’ve come is the most rewarding part of being in the organization, Bitner said.
“This organization has grown so much just within the past few years, and because of COVID, no one was able to see us, but now we’re this big group and our skills have improved,” Bitner said. “I’m just very excited for them to see how Buckeye Twirl has evolved.”