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Getting to know USTA Professional Member Sara Stanley( Tue, Oct 15 00:10:AM)

Getting to know USTA Professional member Sara Stanley, who judged the 2019 European Championships

“Getting to know you………getting to know all about you.”
In continuing our popular “Getting to Know You” feature, we are excited to share with you an article written by USTA Master Judge, Sara Stanley, who hails from Louisiana. Sara was selected to serve on the judging panel at the 2019 European Championships. Here’s what she had to say about that experience.
Hello twirling world! My name is Sara Stanley. I have been involved in the sport of baton twirling since the age of three. From marching in local Christmas parades to now being a Master Level Judge, baton twirling has shaped me into the person that I am today. This past summer, I was selected to represent the United States as a judge on the panel for the 2019 European Championships. The European countries that were represented included Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This competition is essentially the national competition of the European countries in which athletes compete in freestyle, pairs and team events.     
I arrived in France greeted by the wonderful representatives of the French federation and quickly became friends with judges from Germany as well as Sweden. After attending the VIP Party, I was overwhelmed with the all-consuming thought that, “Twirling is our home.” I found myself in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers speaking different languages, but I never felt so alive! The passion and desire to further our sport is shared worldwide. I felt great admiration towards my fellow judges on the panel as they all speak English as a second language and they express themselves fluently. While we may have received training from various clinicians, we were all trained with the mission to do what is best for the athletes.
One of my fondest memories was the emotion and electricity I felt as each athlete took the floor. No matter which country they represented, everyone in the stands erupted in applause and chants of support. I remember thinking to myself that the energy from the audience was contagious, giving the athletes the confidence needed to perform their programs. During finals, chills covered my body and tears formed in my eyes in response to the audience.
As judges, we go through countless hours of education and testing. I believe that the greatest knowledge gained is through experience, and what an experience this was! Not only is the judge’s chair the best seat in the house, it is the seat that comes with the most responsibility. I asked my fellow judges on the panel the different emotions felt during the day and the following were named: excitement, nervousness, pride, sentiment, happiness and passion. The overall understanding that I gained is invaluable. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to the European Board for opening their doors to me and how thankful I am to USTA for selecting me as the representative from our country.
Walking away from this experience not only am I feeling thankful, I am also feeling empowered. The sport of baton twirling has changed my life as well as everyone around me! Each of you reading this article, look around. You and those that you surround yourself with are responsible for pushing this sport to the next level! To keep our exquisite sport alive and growing, we all must volunteer and give back. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to judge, please reach out to our judge’s mentoring program! We would love for you to join this community. Whether your passion be coaching, competing, judging, leading or advertising, there is a place for you!