NORTH AUGUSTA — Young girls will have another Riverview Park option to consider in the weeks ahead, adding to a list of activities that include basketball, volleyball, softball, dance and tumbling.
Hope Ham, a 2007 University of Georgia graduate who was a featured twirler for the Bulldogs, will teach the basics of baton twirling starting Thursday at 6 p.m., calling on more than 20 years of experience.
Registration can be done via the Facebook page for Revolutions Baton Twirling Academy, Ham’s Grovetown-based business.
Ham’s background in twirling reaches to early childhood.
“My mom started twirling when she was 3, and my aunt twirled, as well,” she said, recalling constant exposure amid her mom’s activities as an instructor.
Ham, a native of Marion, Ill., began twirling and memorizing routines at age 3 and was working with professional choreographers by age 5, the same age when she won a national championship.
“Actually, I remember trying to quit some time around (ages) 9, 10 or 11, and I got so bored. In about two weeks, I was like, ‘Forget that,’ and I went back to twirling.”
She described herself as a “supercompetitive” perfectionist, taking part in four sports in high school: cheerleading (for football and basketball), volleyball (with all-state recognition), track (competing in the state meet in two events) and twirling.
She finally decided to focus on twirling and dance.
The results included two world championships in twirling – one in Birmingham, England, and the other in Milan, Italy.
Offering some advice for would-be twirlers, she said, “As far as body type goes, really, anybody could be successful. Obviously, if you’re a little larger, it might be harder to move your body fast, but you can learn to do it.”
Essential traits, Ham said, include good hand-eye coordination and overall coordination. A dance background is tremendously helpful, she said.
“I tell my kids all the time, ‘It’s more important how you do it than what you do,’ because you can do the hardest tricks in the world, but if they’re ugly, nobody wants to watch you, so you want to make it look pretty.”
Age is not a concern for twirlers, and plans are for an adult-level class to be offered next year, she said, pointing out that some studios offer classes for ladies in the 50-plus age category, for exercise.
Ham described her operation as “building toward a sort of ‘one-stop shop’ for performing arts, with a strong emphasis on twirling.”
She added, “We may be adding gymnastics soon, and we will definitely be offering more dance classes next year.”
Business is booming.
“Pretty soon, I’m going to need a secretary, because I can’t handle it all,” Ham said, with a laugh.
Costs for Ham’s class are $30 for registration and $45 per month. Details are available at (678) 56-TWIRL.