Twirler wins national championship for KU

Shannon Livengood, a sophomore from Clay Center, will step on to Memorial Stadium’s field this fall to perform as the 2013 national collegiate champion in baton twirling.

“I am currently the only twirler at KU. I twirl at every football game and pregame with the Marching Jayhawks,” Livengood said. “I’ve also twirled at women’s soccer games, women’s basketball games, and at halftime for a men’s basketball game in January.”

On Feb. 3, Livengood won the U.S. Intercollegiate and National High School Baton Twirling Championship held in Liberty, Mo. Out of five events, Livengood took first place in Collegiate Freestyle and 2-Baton, second place in Collegiate Solo, and third place in Collegiate Fight Song and 3-Baton. Her score totals in the five events added up to give her an overall first place finish.

HANNAH WISE/KANSAN Guest batton twirler Shannon Livengood performs along side the Marching Jayhawks before the start of the football game.

Guest batton twirler Shannon Livengood performs along side the Marching Jayhawks before the start of the football game.

“It’s a great achievement,” Livengood said. “I competed last year and got third. Winning overall as a sophomore is amazing, and representing KU is a great feeling.”

Livengood has been twirling since she was 4 years old and has been with her coach Koralea Slagle since she was 5 or 6 years old.

“She is always messing with the baton,” Slagle said of Livengood. “This was a great win for her because usually she does much better with a large crowd. This was special because she did really well in all of her events.”

Livengood represented the University in competition, with some of her championship points coming from her performance in the Collegiate Fight Song category, during which she twirls to the University’s fight song.

Livengood, the NCABT (National Coalition for the Advancement of Baton Twirling), and twirlers around the country are trying to get baton twirling recognized as a collegiate sport.

Although Livengood is a member of the Marching Jayhawks, she competed with no financial support from the University.
“She was representing KU, but was not financially supported by KU,” Slagle said.

Dr. Matthew Smith, Director of the Marching Jayhawks, believes that Livengood’s national championship gives the Marching Jayhawks the recognition it deserves and will attract more performers in the years to come.

“Her national championship helps to ensure that future twirlers recognize that KU is a great place to feature their talents, and gives us a sense of pride in her accomplishments,” Smith said.

Smith also said that Livengood is a vital part of every Marching Jayhawks performance.

“Shannon serves an important role in the visual component of the band,” Smith said. “Along with our color guard, she helps to present the pageantry and tradition of a large university marching band.  A twirler must connect with the crowd, from the first row of seats to the last, and I believe that Shannon has a unique gift for that.”

Livengood’s parents, Jeff and Betty Livengood, were not able to watch their daughter perform but were ecstatic to hear the good news.

“Every time she performs, my heart melts. I cried when I heard she won; I was so excited for her,” Betty Livengood said. “She really loves KU and she’s really enjoyed representing the University.”

Livengood plans to continue twirling for the University for the next two years and hopes to eventually start her own teaching program and studio for future twirlers.

  • Updated Feb. 14, 2013 at 2:54 am
  • Edited by Megan Hinman