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Getting to know USTA Professional member Trenton Haltom( Mon, Sep 14 00:09:AM)

Getting to know USTA Professional member Trenton Haltom

“Getting to know you……… getting to know all about you.”

Trenton Haltom is a long-time twirler and relatively new USTA member. Inside Loop's Dale White recently talked with him about his experience in twirling, his research on male twirlers and his hopes for the future of our sport. Here's what he had to say.

Inside Loop: Congratulations on being a new USTA Professional!  You’ve delved into the study of all aspects of male baton twirling. Can you tell us about your study and findings?

Trenton: Thank you! I'm excited to take these next steps in my baton twirling career.  

Drawing on my own experiences, I conducted my Master's thesis on male baton twirlers, "Experiencing the Blue Curtain: The Effects of Tokenism on Masculine Identities among Male Baton Twirlers." In this study, I interviewed 30 male baton twirlers aged 19-78 from around the U.S. about their experiences with stigma, privilege, gender and sexuality. Particularly outside of competitions, I found that many faced stigma for wanting to twirl from peers, family members and even schoolteachers because of the sport's association with women and gay men. In spite of the sport's potentially damaging reputation, the men doubled down to "be the best" and show off their skills to those who questioned their desire to twirl. The story was slightly different and more complex in the context of twirling competitions, however. On the one hand, the men speculated that they received higher scores than women to encourage them to keep twirling. On the other, the men recalled the stress of having all eyes on them as the sole male twirler and pressures to conform to a "masculine" style of twirling. In sum, to be a male twirler in a sport dominated by women and so highly feminized is a mixed bag. Regardless, the majority of the men spoke fondly of their time as twirling athletes and voiced hope that the next generation has it better.  

Since graduating with my MA from the University of Houston in 2015, I have published from this data in the Manly Musings blog, as a chapter in the Body Battlegrounds textbook, and in the Sociology of Sport Journal. In my next project on twirling, I am working with David Lopes (University of Lyon, France) to study diversity, equity and inclusion in the sport by comparing the experiences of twirlers from around the world. I am currently in my last year in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I will graduate with a Ph.D. next year. 

Inside Loop: What do you hope baton twirling will look like in ten years?
Trenton: There are two more obvious answers like Olympic recognition, and I think we all hope in-person competitions can resume despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond these points, however, I would like to see increased representation of race/ethnicities, body sizes and underserved groups in the U.S. Overall, I hope attitudes about inclusion change and opportunities for twirlers increase in the next decade.
Inside Loop: Tell us three things that baton folks wouldn't know about you!
Trenton: 1. I love podcasts! I listen to them daily.
2. I have a bowtie-shaped scar on my right pinky finger from a tricycle accident when I was a toddler. (Simply early evidence that I would be a dapper adult, I think!)
3. Of the two major surgeries I've had in my life, I was a guinea pig for both. It was the first time either of my doctors had conducted these procedures (tympanoplasty and achilles tendon rupture repair).
Thanks, Trenton, for sharing your insights with us!