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Getting to know USTA Professional Members Tessah Ivey and Katy Anholt( Fri, Feb 15 00:02:AM)



Getting to know USTA Professional members Tessah Ivey and Katy Anholt

“Getting to know you…getting to know all about you.”
A new feature of INSIDE LOOP is an up close and personal interview with YOU, our professionals. We want to know YOU, what makes you tick, what you do outside of baton, and little known facts about YOU. Our second feature interviews include USTA Professional members Tessah Ivey from Florida and Katy Anholt from Oregon. Meet them here.
We sat down and asked them:
Outside of baton, what do you do as an occupation?
Tessah: I am the senior paralegal that specializes in mass torts and civil litigation and Firm Administrator for The Michael Brady Lynch Firm, a national pharmaceutical and medical device trial firm.
Katy: I am a full-time teacher of language arts and social studies for grades K/1st and 2nd/3rd.  I’m very lucky to teach at a tiny public school of only 65 kids, grades K-8. I love my job!
Why are you passionate about baton twirling?
Tessah: That is very difficult for me to put into words to say “why”, I just do. I’m pretty serious about my baton. The closest I can express would be love. It was love at first sight. I was fascinated watching all of the majorettes at the Kanawha Valley Majorette Festival throw the baton, spin so many times and do all the crazy catches. I was a hard core softball player, and right away I thought, I like this-they throw, they catch. When I tried it, I loved the soft cold smooth feel of the baton in my hand. The baton became an extension of me from that day forward.  Mastering new twirls was so exciting. Watching others invent new things thrilled me. I was obsessed with analyzing how they did it so I could invent something from it. My brain always seems to spark when I’m around twirling. To this day, I do my best thinking and life planning when I am twirling by myself outside alone. The way some of my guy friends describe their feeling about surfing is how I feel about baton. Baton has been my best, longest, most steadfast friend. Many people will think I’m odd to talk about it in such a manner, but some of you might “get it.”
Katy: My first thought was, because it is fun! I have always loved to twirl. I loved performing, and I now really enjoy teaching and the artistic side of choreography.
If you could change ANYTHING about USTA, what would that be?
Tessah: USTA has made a lot of recent moves in the right direction, so there is not much I would change. I would like to see the Primary and Juvenile division be able to go to twirloff. The Primary age group champion should have the same recognition as the Juvenile, Junior, Senior, etc. champion. If they are able to pay, compete against each other and be placed on the podium for the Primary division- that is no different than competing in a twirloff and should be allowed to do so and also receive the same type of awards at all levels that are given to Juvenile, Junior and Senior divisions. I would also like to see National, Regional and State duets recognized the same as National Solo, 2-Baton, 3-Baton, Strut and Men’s Solo and provided the same awards.
Katy: I remember attending regional conventions many years ago, and I loved going to the different workshops. Now I would enjoy taking my team to a convention like that, but I know that local councils are getting smaller and can’t afford to offer them. Perhaps USTA can financially support more conventions in the future for all levels of twirlers.
If your job was to increase USTA’s membership, how would you go about doing that?
Tessah: 1. Accept the reality that you cannot have a large membership unless you embrace those who cannot twirl beyond figures 8’s and thumb tosses and find a place for them in the overall structure where they will feel successful and valued.
  2. Create a stand alone format to create new twirlers and engage those that are on the figure 8 and thumb toss level. My suggestion would be hosting special event performances at local, state and regional levels in addition to our competitive event offerings.
   3. Select a staff from each region to hold multiple local “twirl days” in different parts of each state where they were actually advertised in advance. Partner with the YMCA, Girls Scouts, afterschool programs and other local youth groups in advance to arrange for youth that have never twirled to attend. Provide a combo clinic of baton, dance and some type of prop/twirling apparatus/pom tied in with a public event performance later that involved ALL the twirlers, regardless of levels at the same time. My opinion is substantial membership increase will only come from new twirlers. Programming must be fun, easy and age appropriate (especially for teenagers). The pom/props portion is to get them in the door and make them feel successful because twirling takes time, and there is only so much new students can accomplish their first day/week/month. We need to let them see the potential of what baton can be for them in the short term.
   4. Focus on relationship building with existing teachers/coaches. Invite them to participate in USTA competitions.
Katy: I would encourage other states (and USTA) to adopt some of Oregon’s non-sanctioned events. We have over time added a variety of short events for novice and beginner twirlers who aren’t ready for the longer routines. It gives them more floor time at a competition and makes their parents feel like their special twirler is involved all day. We have apparatus, pre-2 baton, 1-baton trick meet and 3-baton trick meet. I would also like to see USTA explore ways to support new coaches who need a venue to teach twirling. This is related to helping them get a non-profit status or somehow sharing USTA’s non-profit status with them. They would have an easier time getting into schools if they had non-profit status. I am fortunate that I can use my school’s gym, but I know other potential coaches who can’t run a club because they don’t have an affordable space.
What are three things about you that most USTA folks do not know?
Tessah: 1. I collect specimen seashells. 2. I was a feature twirler in high school and college in W.V. 3. I am 50% Czechoslovakian. (My father is from there.)
Katy: 1. I am a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. This is similar in difficulty to pursuing a doctorate degree. Around 3% of teachers nationally are certified. It was a rigorous process and I couldn’t be prouder of that accomplishment.
    2. I began my twirling career in 2nd grade in an afterschool class. I quickly loved it and joined the Kelly Kadets of Portland, OR. I then started dancing (ballet, jazz, tap, etc.) as an avenue to improve my baton technique, and these lifelong pursuits have influenced my style of twirling and coaching.
    3. My first real job with a paycheck was teaching dance classes. I was mentored by Shanon Barker, throughout my middle school and high school years, on how to teach dance and baton. This prepared me for my career in teaching school and then to start my own team the FantastiX Baton Club. I continue to be involved in coaching the Kelly Kadets as well.
Thanks, Tessah and Katy, for your candid responses. Nice “getting to know you!”