Shannon Dresser twirls batons and juggles her time.
Feature twirler with the University of Hawaiʻ at Mānoa’s Marching Band, she rehearses with the musicians three times a week, practices by herself two hours a day, attends ballet class and creates her own choreography for routines at football, basketball and volleyball games.
She also mentors student athletes and competes on the Rainbow Wahine cross country and track teams, all while completing courses on track to a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in speech in May 2009.
Dresser began recreational baton twirling at age 6. At 12 she turned competitive. She holds a number of state and regional titles—including California State and All West Regional Duet and World Open Two Baton championships in 2005—and was named College All West Miss Majorette.
The 5-foot-10, blond, honor student and two-sport letter winner sent UH her audition tape during her senior year at Littlerock High School in Palmdale, Calif.
“After I got called in for the live audition and found out that I got the one and only spot, that was it. I knew I wanted to come and twirl here,” she says. “My old coach suggested Hawaiʻi because she had several other girls go here and they absolutely loved it. I am the same way.”
Dresser has seven routines and loves them all. “I never get tired of hearing the same songs, like Hawaiʻi Five-0, because in my head I am concentrating on the routine and performing, which is what I love to do.”
Her most inspiring moment as a twirler was getting to perform for millions during at the UH Rainbow Warriors’ 2007 Sugar Bowl appearance. “I felt so proud to be representing UH,” she says
It’s a rare miss that disrupts her routine, but Dresser admits to her most embarrassing moment—getting hit in the head with her baton and winding up with a bloody nose.
No pain, no gain; she is now working to perfect her hardest trick yet, which involves four batons and one illusion. An illusion involves juggling two batons, lifting one leg up in the air and catching the baton in between the legs in a single, swift, fluid move.
“Twirling is my passion,” Dresser says. “I love Hawaiʻi and I’m not ready to leave quite yet.” Pursuing a UH master’s degree in sociology will allow her to continue twirling at UH and competitively.
Her goal is to qualify in regional and national collegiate competition so she can compete in National Baton Twirling Association World Championship, the Olympics of twirling held every three years.
“I’m very lucky to be the UH twirler because it gives me inspiration and extra practice everyday. Just to make it to nationals is an honor, so if I make it to world, I know I’ll be able to retire as one of the best twirlers internationally.”
What then? The granddaughter of drum majors wants to follow her parents’ footsteps and go into law enforcement.