KETTLERSVILLE — Ginny Maurer, of Kettlersville, has been twirling a baton and teaching others how to do it, too, for a long time — four and a half decades, to be exact.
She will celebrate those 45 years at a reunion of current and past students and their parents immediately following the St. Marys Summerfest Parade, Aug. 13, at 122 S. Front St., St. Marys.
Former members of Ginny’s Ginger Snaps Baton Corps and their families are invited to attend. There will be cake and ice cream and a free raffle for prizes. The twirlers and their parents also are invited to ride on a float in the parade. Riders should meet at Speckman Automotive, 415 S. Wayne St., St. Marys, at 3:30 p.m.
Maurer would like to hear from alumnae who can’t participate in either the parade or the reunion. Notes can be sent to her at P.O. Box 66, Kettlersville, OH 45336.
The teacher has run baton studios in St. Marys and Kettlersville since 1970, but she began her teaching career almost as soon as she began to twirl, herself.
“I started teaching myself from a book when I was in seventh grade,” she said. As she was growing up in Fort Jennings, there was no one else to teach her.
“I got to be a majorette in the band. As a senior, I was head majorette. Then I took lessons in Delphos,” she added. Before long, neighborhood children were asking her to show them how to spin, toss, catch and twirl.
“During my junior and senior years in high school, I taught about 60 kids in my parents’ basement,” Maurer said. Not long after, she formed the Jenn-Ettes and the group grew to number 100. Her mother, Pat Saum, helped her to make uniforms for all the twirlers.
“I loved doing it,” Maurer said.
She married a Kettlersville resident in 1970 and moved to Shelby County. That’s when she opened the local studio. She worked at a savings and loan company in Lima and taught in Fort Jennings. When a friend said that the baton and drum corps based at the St. Marys VFW was in need of a new leader, Maurer took over that troupe.
She started a contest parade corps, show teams and show corps.
“We went to Florida, Michigan, Philadelphia, Dayton. Then we started marching in parades,” she said. “There was a time when I had kids from 3 to senior year. We’d march in 20 parades a year.” And they won trophies. The Snaps took first place in the junior division of the World Twirling Association (WTA) National Contest in their very first year of existence as a team. They’ve been named WTA National Show Team Champion, Junior Ohio State Parade Corps Champion, Dance and Twirl Champion and Show Corps Champion, to name a few.
When she had children of her own, Maurer left the Lima job and taught baton full-time. In 1972, she established the Ginger Snaps, coaching members from towns throughout west central Ohio in St. Marys and Kettlersville. Current Snaps live in Anna, New Bremen, Kettlersville, Minster, Wapakoneta, Coldwater, Celina and St. Marys. Maurer’s baton students pay a low fee for lessons, and all uniforms, costumes, warm-up suits and T-shirts are provided.
She teaches from September to November and from February to May. But class participants get much more than lessons. Maurer hosts awards banquets, Valentine cake walks, Easter egg hunts, Halloween and Christmas parties and summer family picnics.
The Kettlersville students meet in Maurer’s home. The St. Marys twirlers have a new studio to learn in. Many of their parents have spent time this summer helping to paint it.
“But when the girls are doing high tosses and aerials, they need to be outside,” Maurer said.
She’s seen lots of changes in her years as a corps leader. One of them is her title.
“They used to call you a director. Now they call you a coach,” she said. “And there aren’t as many twirlers now. There used to be eight or 10 corps in parades. You don’t see that anymore. Twirlers just aren’t as dedicated. They have other interests and they don’t want to be in a parade every week. Neither do I,” she laughed.
The Snaps will participate in the Celina Lake Festival, New Bremenfest, Minster Octoberfest and St. Marys Halloween parades, in addition to the Summerfest parade this year.
Maurer noted that twirling is a much more athletic pursuit than it used to be. Twirlers must know ballet and tumbling, in addition to having nimble fingers. She likes giving props to her students.
“Like twirling little brooms in the Halloween parade,” she said.
Taking baton lessons is an opportunity for friendship and teamwork. Maurer has taught underprivileged and disabled kids.
“I’ve made so many good friends,” she noted. “A lot of families didn’t have a lot. They’d build vacations around competitions, like a camp. Kids come back now and say, ‘You put me in a good place.’ Those are the things you remember. (You think) ‘Wow, I made a difference iin somebody’s life.’”
Although she’s in her 70s, retirement is not in the picture.
“When I turned 30, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m not going to do this anymore. Then, when I was 40, then 50, then 70,” Maurer said. “It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. There are so many neat memories.”
For information about lessons — new classes begin Sept. 12 — or about the reunion, call 937-726-0336.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.