“People don’t know about baton twirling until people see it happen. Contrary to popular belief you don’t just hold it and dance you have to perform. It’s a full-body act with facial expression and dedication.”
- Valon Faith Henry
Valon Faith Henry, from New York, is the majorette captain for the Shimmering Sapphire and Elegance Majorettes for the University Marching Force at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. At Hampton, she’s in her junior year majoring in health sciences and minoring in Spanish, with hopes of becoming a respiratory therapist. And fun fact, She has a fraternal twin sister who is the feature twirler at Marshall University. Valon started baton twirling with her twin sister at the age of 7 as a recreation afterschool activity. This gave her the opportunity to practice the fundamentals and dexterity. However, it soon turned into her joining a competitive team, the Sliver Stalites, getting offered a position with her traveling team, and gaining exposure around the tristate area!
Reflecting on her years of knowledge and encouraging others, Valon tells Aurora Tights that baton twirling is not hard if you dedicated and put your heart into it. She says the key thing you learn from the sport is “if you want to achieve you have to put everything on the floor.” Not only does this apply to baton twirling but a good rule of life. Valon says that this has helped her learn how to discipline herself, learn to love herself and continue spreading that love throughout her life. Thus, it was a huge factor when looking at colleges. Valon found herself starting at West Virginia University, a predominantly white institution (PWI), where she felt her twirling wasn’t thriving but was soon recruited by her god-brother at Hampton University, a historically Black college or university (HBCU). She says that the transition was very hard but after putting in the work she loved it and was grateful for the opportunities she was presented with!
When it comes to representation, Valon explains that baton twirling is mostly considered a white sport. She says that because of that she has always felt hindered in twirling and thought that people believed she wasn’t as capable because of her looks. However, she made sure to work hard so her skill could combat any false beliefs and show people who look like her that it is possible.
Thinking about the advice she would offer others and the future, Valon suggests finding support. For her, she relied heavily on the words of motivation from her mom and coach, her teammates who help her not be so hard on herself, and of course her twin sister who always offers her guidance. Lastly, she reminds us that mistakes are simply a lesson to help us learn and improve. Looking to the future, Valon would love to start her own baton twirling team or be a personal coach but for now, she just wants to take advantage of all the opportunities that are around her in her junior year of college.