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K. Dillion, Top Notch Twirler
One step into Senior K. Dillon's home and you can tell you're in twirler territory. Her metallic-green baton bag is slumped against the wall next to two competition boards, boasting Howell's signature highlander. Looking left you can catch a glimpse of her bedroom, with more than 50 trophies covering a shelf over her bed and scattered on the floor, signs of a true champ. Dillon's turquoise eyes shined with excitement as she sat down to talk about her recent win, the title of Miss High School Majorette.
After the death of her brother Aaron, Dillon who was only seven years old, fell into tough times. 'When my brother died, my self-esteem was so low,' Dillon says remembering the devastation. 'My mom really wanted me to get out there and do something.' Joining a community education twirling class, everything changed. 'I loved it. For the first time I felt like I belonged to something special.'
Dillon took her new found love to the next level and only a year after her first lesson she joined a team and started to compete. 'At my first competition I was almost sick I was so nervous and scared.' She competed with a team and also performed a solo. 'We did our routine to that silly 'Crazy Bus' song,' she recalled with a laugh.
Nerves or not, that competition was the beginning of many. 'I compete about six times a year. I put in roughly twelve hours of practice a week, alone and with my team (The Limited Edition Twirlers).' Twirling isn't as simple as it looks. 'People never understand the serious, hard work needed. Twirling is a mix of gymnastics, dance, and adrenaline, with a stick.'
In December, Dillon made the trip to Bryan, Ohio to show her skills. Entering in World's Most Beautiful Twirler (a pageant) and Miss High School Majorette, Dillon was prepared for a hectic weekend. Taking 5th in World's Most Beautiful, she moved on to her next challenge and becoming Miss High School Majorette wasn't easy. Not only did the competitors have to display major twirling skills they also had to prove to be well-rounded. 'I've wanted this since I started, because unlike any other title it's more role-model based. You have to go through an interview and perform. You have to do well in both to win.'
When asked about her reaction to receiving the crown she blushes and laughs. 'It was between me and another girl, and I was sure I didn't have it. Then they announced her name, as the runner-up, and I hugged her feeling defeated. Then she whispered 'congratulations' and it clicked. I pulled away confused, then I started to jump up and down, screaming, I couldn't believe it,' she makes a face imitating her shocked expression. 'To me it was my dream goal fulfilled. I worked the hardest I've ever worked for anything and I became the first on my team to receive that title.'
Winning this elite title is big in the twirling world. The winner walks away with not only a crown and sash but also major recognition. The same time this year she will return to give her final performance as the winner and give a speech to her future successors, an opportunity she is very excited about.
In the future Dillon looks forward to continue twirling at Eastern Michigan University and major in musical therapy. She also plans on competing more this year. 'I usually compete in the 16-23 division, and am classified as advanced which is the highest level you can reach.'
Winning her dream title and excelling to the highest level possible hasn't all gone to Dillon's head. 'Twirling has changed my life. My confidence, my self-esteem, everything has gone up. How I feel about myself and others has been completely altered. It makes me feel balanced.'
This change didn't come instantly, switching coaches had a tremendous impact. 'My coach Tammy inspires me and is like a second mom. There will never be enough money or gifts to repay her for what's she's given me. And my team is like a family, they make me a better person and help me always do what's right.'
Dillon never hesitates to recruit newcomers, 'I encourage anyone to try it. I never would have gained the friends and the experiences had I not joined. It has been the best experience of my life.'
With all the challenges and hard work she's had to endure it's hard to believe she's not exhausted. But, with all the opportunities and excitement that are surely in store for this champion she deserves the benefit of the doubt.