Purchase photos

Academy helps instructor's dream twirl




Six years ago, she had a dream -- a dream to help children live out their dreams, just like she's living hers.

Shelby Schumacher, who will begin her first semester at Fort Hays State University this fall, has been twirling since she was 2.

As an experienced twirler, parents were coming to her interested in getting their daughters involved. Instead of teaching multiple private lessons, Schumacher started Hays Twirl Academy.

"It's opened so many doors for me," she said. "It's basically been my dream since I was little to twirl on the football field with the marching band. I've always stuck with it, just living out my dreams. This gives me a chance to help kids live out their dreams just like I got to live out mine."

Approximately 10 girls are enrolled in the Hays academy, and Schumacher will begin an outreach program this semester in Hill City.

"I had a grandmother contact me saying her granddaughters were interested in starting twirling," she said. "So, I agreed to teach a group there."

The expansion is only the beginning. Schumacher plans to twirl throughout college and coach full-time following graduation.

Siera Smith, 11, has been twirling since the beginning of the academy.

"I think it's really cool to see the baton go up in the air and learn new tricks," she said. "I like going to competitions and trying new things."

Shelby Alexander, 10, has been involved in the academy for three years but started twirling at a young age in her backyard.

"I started tossing a stick around in the backyard," she said. "That led to getting involved, and I love being able to compete."

Schumacher has yet to begin her freshman year, but already is making a name for herself in the FHSU Tiger Marching Band.

She won a first-place team award in show twirling and a first-place individual award in flag twirling from the National Baton Twirling Competition in South Bend, Ind. Schumacher, along with another team member, also won the Beth Wilson Wow Award for creativity and show quality in their routine.

"It's such an overwhelming feeling knowing that I'm competing with the best of the best," Schumacher said. "It was really nerve-wracking."