Whirling, Twirling, Fly in The Air

Highland Park High’s Karianne Grove-Collins seeks to compete, entertain, inspire

Through a combination of dance struts, leaps, kicks, and baton throws, Highland Park High School’s only twirler enchants the wide-ranging audiences that watch her.

Freshman Karianne Grove- Collins aims to entertain but also inspire.

“It’s fun to see kids who will hopefully be future twirlers in the following years,” Karianne said.

Twirling began for her as a shared family interest. Karianne first started classes when she was 4, trying to keep up with her older sister.

She continued occasionally from kindergarten on growing more serious even as her sister lost interest.

By sixth grade, she finally convinced her mom to let her pursue competitive twirling through Texas Touch of Class (TTOC) teams in 2018.

Karianne “did gymnastics and art before that and wouldn’t have had time to add another activity,” her mom, Gina Grove-Collins, said.

Karianne and her TTOC teammates perform both field and contest twirling. The five different age divisions of twirling require many years of rigorous training through four levels: novice, beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

TTOC even helped Karianne train through the difficulty of pursuing the sport during the Covid-19 lockdown.

She persistently practiced outside her two coaches’ houses and in the streets of her neighborhood when gyms were closed.

Being a field performer at Highland Park is “a lot less stressful, and a lot freer” after her experience compiling many wins and awards as a contest performer, Karianne said.

That said, one of her more memorable performances came with its share of technical difficulties.

Her music initially wouldn’t play correctly at the Blacklight Communal Pep Rally at HPHS. Nonetheless, she held her position and composure.

To remain calm during strenuous situations, she knows, “it’s not going to be difficult forever. In the moment, there’s nothing you can do, so just keep pushing, and in the end, it will work out,” Karianne said.

It’s overall great to get to know people while representing
the school.

Karianne Grove-Collins

Another ritual she does to relieve nerves before performing is cracking her toes and shoulders.

Being the only twirler at the high school has opened opportunities to be a part of many different communities.

“I like the people, the band, and the color guard a lot,” Karianne said. “And the Belles are all really nice.”

The other campus activities support and accept her, making the experience a positive and valuable one she hopes to continue throughout high school, she said. “They sort of adopted me into their groups, and it’s overall great to get to know people while representing the school.”

Karianne hopes to motivate others to pursue their passions, even ones they must do alone.

“Keep going until you find what you like,” her mom said. “Just don’t care if you are the only one doing it, as long as you enjoy it.”

Sophia Wilson is a senior at Highland Park High School who likes to write and dance.

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