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Getting to know USTA Professional members Liane Aramaki Bradford and Jonathan Burkin( Wed, Sep 18 00:09:AM)

Getting to know USTA Professional members Liane Aramaki Bradford and Jonathan Burkin

“Getting to know you………getting to know all about you.”
In continuing our popular “Getting to Know You” feature, we were excited to feature two former elite athletes that are now coaching athletes at all levels.  Liane Aramaki Bradford from California, and Jonathan Burkin from Pennsylvania, have certainly established themselves within our sport. Here is what they had to say about coaching.
1. As a former competitor who always performed with an obvious love and passion for the sport, how do you instill that quality in your students?
Liane: For my students who already twirl with love and passion for our sport, it’s almost an “all consuming” feeling to watch them, as if I were right there doing each movement myself. For those who still need to incorporate that quality into their performances, I believe it’s a feeling that I can transmit to them mostly through examples of either twirling with them, or finding an athlete they can watch and identify with.   Sometimes…something as simple as how excited I am when we’re working on, or even just talking about their twirling, does the trick.
Jonathan: I think it's first, important to note the love and pure joy baton twirling brings is something that is so deep rooted in your soul. That passion, unfortunately, cannot be taught; it CAN however be harvested and refined. So often, we simply go through the motions of a competitive year without really stepping back and analyzing the purpose of it all. I like to start the season asking athletes, "Why?" Why do we do this? What about manipulating a metal stick keeps us in gyms all day, and planes all night? What about it keeps us from sleepovers, friends, parties, and occasionally takes us away from our family? WHY do we love this sport so much? After we go through the superficial reasons, such as trophies and pomp & circumstance, there is typically only one response left..."We just do." I find, that if an athlete can come to that conclusion, the passion, joy, and love is already there...deep rooted in their soul. It's my job, as a coach, to help bring it to life. The goal for my athletes, beyond the realm of competition and performance, is to understand that baton twirling is so much bigger than any one individual or any one specific title. It's our small (yet mighty), mark on the world. It's our way of expressing art and sport together. It's what keeps us connected with amazing people from all over the world. It's our specialty - not everyone can do what we do. Sometimes, it is quite literally our lifeline.
Once this is all understood, the passion comes naturally. I often remind athletes to step back. Look at the whole picture. Breathe. Relax. Perform.
2. Do you limit the number of events that your students do in competition?  What is your philosophy about this issue?
Liane: When my students are in the “middle” of their twirling careers, I do not limit the number of events they do in competition. It has been my experience that quite a few of them either begin strong in one event and end strong in another, suddenly begin to love an event they had never liked before, or qualified for an International competition in an event that wasn’t necessarily their best or favorite, thus forcing it to become so. I know that it is not completely possible to be a specialist in all events, but I believe that when reaching beyond competition, to performing, coaching, and judging, it is definitely beneficial to be an “all-around” athlete. Thus, my philosophy on this issue can be summed up in one quote with a little twist. It’s not “jack of all trades, master of none,” but “jack of all trades, master of SOME.”

Jonathan: Limiting the number of events an athlete enters, to me, is circumstantial. I would encourage a first time competitor to challenge themselves by competing in a number of appropriate events such as solo, basic march, presentation, etc.. This gets them on the floor in front of a judge in a situation where the pressure of competition may not be as high. On a much different note, I would advise a world level athlete to focus down in international competition. I think its best to compete in no more than two events at a world competition due to the number of rounds athletes must complete before making it to a final.
3. Tell the twirling world three things that we probably don’t know about you.
1. My husband, Brad (a 1st trumpet player), and I met in the USC, Trojan Marching Band where our band director had more questions for him about our future than my father did.
2. In spite of growing up in the city, we, along with two horses, live on a working citrus ranch that has been in Brad’s family for 3 generations.  We also own farmland in the Southwest corner of Nebraska.
3. I am a great fan of the rodeo although I’ve yet to go to one in person.  Watching all ten days of the National Finals Rodeo for years now, I have gained great respect for how committed these athletes are, to competing under the most extreme circumstances for the love of their sport.
1.  I am an avid horse-racing fan - Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont stakes are national holidays in my house!
2.  Christmas is by far my favorite holiday - I usually set up the tree November 1st.
3.  Volleyball is my second sport - I am currently on two competitive teams playing in separate leagues!
Thanks, Liane and Jonathan for your insightful comments.  It is GREAT “Getting to Know You!”