BANGOR - "Some people think that baton is not a sport but that is not the case at all," said Alexandra Clowes, 17, of Brewer.
For two years, the Main-E-Acts Baton Twirling Team has spent countless hours perfecting their routines.
"Everyone wants it, so that really like helps us get to where we've gotten," said Lindsay Pitts, 16, of Bucksport.
"It's a lot of endurance, there's a lot of sweat in this gym," said Andrea Fletcher, coach and director of the Central Maine Twirling Corps.
All this, leading to a chance to represent Maine in the National Baton Twirling Championships, held July 25-29.
"This is a particularly fantastic team that has earned the right to go," Fletcher said. "They work hard, they sweat, they push each other, they get along, they really understand the concept of team."
Many of the fifteen girls on the team have been twirling since they were toddlers.
"And I fell in love with it right from the get go," said Pitts.
Now, they're going up against some of the best athletes in the nation.
"We've never gotten this far with any other Main-E-Act team that we've had," said Pitts.
Among their competitive events, a seven minute Senior Show Corps routine.
"It's one of the most complex and longest routines that I've ever done so it definitely has some challenges and a lot of team work is needed for it," said Pitts.
Along the way, drops, mistakes and lessons learned.
"It's part of the journey," said Clowes.
"Tiring mentally and physically," said Ingrid Plant, 14, of Hamden.
"When a metal rod hits you it hurts, and these kids shake it off. They're some of the most resilient kids I know," said Fletcher.
Each practice is strengthening more than just their performance.
"I'm an only child so these are like my sisters, and everyone can agree that we're all sisters," said Clowes.
"They're just like a family, I wouldn't trade it for anything," said Plant.
"I'm just so proud of them, these kids have worked really hard and they deserve every bit of cheer and every bit of success that comes their way," Fletcher said.
"It's definitely a lot of hard work but in the end it's definitely worth it," said Pitts.
Kayla joined the ABC 7 & FOX 22 news team in May of 2017. She got into journalism because she loves talking with people, and she's incredibly grateful to share the stories of Mainers throughout the region.
She got her start in broadcasting way back in middle school as a member of a morning announcements TV broadcast club, and her love for the news industry took off from there.
Kayla graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with degrees in broadcast journalism and Spanish. During her time as a student at Penn State, Kayla was an executive producer and reporter for the "Centre County Report", an Emmy award-winning student-run newscast. She studied abroad in Ronda, Spain and traveled to Panama with an international reporting class. Kayla kept busy in college, spending four years working as a student manager in the dining hall.
Kayla grew up in the village of Shawnee-on-Delaware, located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, so transitioning into life in Vacationland was a piece of cake! A self-described winter fanatic, she loves all things snow related, including hitting the slopes on her snowboard. She also likes hiking, kayaking or doing anything outdoors. She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, be sure to stop and say hi!