You won’t see Lauren Meis making a tackle or shooting a basketball.
But as a Kansas State featured baton twirler, she needs to maintain the same level of dedication as those athletes who keep the crowd entertained at football and basketball games.
Meis, a junior in elementary education, said the mental aspect is important to twirling, which puts her in situations where dropping a baton is magnified during solo performances.
She said having confidence in what she practices helps her through performances.
“But at the same time, mistakes do happen,” Meis said. “When they happen, it’s about how you recover.
“It’s about putting that in the past and going on with the routine. Make it engage the crowd as much as you can.”
The spirit of the fan base she entertains runs in her blood.
She was raised by Kansas State alums who participated in university activities. Her dad played baseball. Her mom was a baton twirler.
Meis, whose mother runs a twirling studio, started twirling at 3 and participated in her first competition at 4.
“I grew up with twirling and was always around it,” the Salina native said. “It did have an influence on me, but I wasn’t pressured in any way.”
As a self-proclaimed, die-hard K-State fan, Meis said she always wanted to twirl at K-State.
Her brother is a freshman at K-State, which continues the family tradition.
“It’s fun to be able to share memories with everyone being a part of the same university,” Meis said.
Meis said she likes sharing her talent, and adding to the positive atmosphere at football and basketball games.
She takes an aggressive approach to her twirling, incorporating speed, jumps and flips to her routines.
“Obviously it does take a toll on your body, but I love the high energy,” she said. “It’s who I am and what I do best.”
Meis said her participation in the sport has taught her the value of hard work and dedication.
“Just like any sport, it does take some sacrifice because of the amount of work that goes into it,” she said. “Being dedicated and working hard will get you far. It doesn’t always come easy, but you do it because you love it.”
Meis said it can be nerve-wracking at times, but the feeling tends to go away when a performance starts.
“What you get in return, there’s no words for it,” she said. “It’s amazing the love and feeling I have when I twirl. It’s great.”
Meis said she’s grateful for the opportunities that twirling has provided.
As a high school junior, she was one of 10 national baton twirlers selected to be an international delegate to Peru, going there for a two-week service trip.
“We were able to visit orphanages, seniors’ homes and medical facilities, and provide them with the money and goods we earned through our performances,” she said.
“(It was) really taking what God has blessed me with, and taking it to the next level with the hard work and dedication.”
Meis estimated she devotes 20 hours a week to twirling through practice, performances and teaching others.
She travels to Salina every Monday to work with four students at her mom’s studio, as well as practicing with her competition team. She also teaches a student in Manhattan.
“That’s one of my favorite things to do,” Meis said. “It involves the sport that I love and being able to share that with others through teaching.”
Meis said the twirling lessons she does for others solidifies her desire to teach.
She said she wants to remain in Kansas while still making her impact felt outside of the classroom.
“I definitely see myself still being involved in twirling, because it’s had such an impact on my life,” she said. “I hope to have that same impact on others.”