Sports

Union High School Twirlers: Winning Championships and Building Confidence

Union High School twirlers in competition
51de5e7e595581f38ed7_00a44db7c1e17d3aba59_ff03bfd1219f32444d3f_twirlers_njta_champs.jpg
Union High School competitive twirling team Credits: Township of Union Schools
586a156e11f8f941d24b_0410a1790832c6b2077b_twirlers_2.jpg
Union High School twirling team winning first place at the United State Twirling Association event (Sierra Foster not pictured) with coach Nicole Placca. Credits: Township of Union Schools
4446da37ec36e7b42c43_5cdfb06b890ee86924df_twirlers_3.jpg
New Jersey State Twirling Champions from Union High School Twirling Team Credits: Township of Union Schools
73dff38e9693bc8c0b05_3dd172bb47bd2597f926_twirlers_4.jpg
Coach Nicole Placca with the Union High School Twirling Team Credits: Township of Union Schools
72c65e1687bfac7c8323_da583aa71ec8f7ab2984_twirlers_5.jpg
Coach Nicole Placca with the Union High School Twirling Team Credits: Township of Union Schools
51de5e7e595581f38ed7_00a44db7c1e17d3aba59_ff03bfd1219f32444d3f_twirlers_njta_champs.jpg

UNION, NJ – There’s a lot more to Union High School’s baton twirling team than what most people see at football games.  There are 11 girls on the twirling team, but only five on the competition team. 

This past weekend that team won another state championship title at the United States Twirling Association’s event.  According to coach Nicole Placca, this is only the second year Union High School has attended the event, and the first time they’ve won.  “This is even a bigger victory because we beat a very well-known organization that has dominated twirl and dance for decades.”

The Union High School competitive twirling team also won first place in Senior Twirl Team and Senior Twirl and Dance at the NBTA on March 4, only the second year the team competed at the event. 

Sign Up for E-News

They also won first place at the New Jersey State Championships.

According to Placca, Union High School is the only school in the county with a twirling program.  She said only about ten high schools in New Jersey still have a twirling program.  Placca said most of the team’s competitors are private organizations. 

The team members, Lakeisha Bataille, Muskan Singh, Shayla Morton, Sierra Foster and Christiana Selby, credit Placca with their success, in twirling and in other areas of their lives.

Senior twirler Bataille, 17, said she was timid when she entered high school.  “In my junior year, I found twirling.  It has opened doors and taught me to just keep going.  I’m so lucky to have a coach who encourages us.  Mrs. P. saw more potential in me than I saw in myself.  Now I’m a state champ.  Twice.” 

Singh, 16 and a junior, said she just started twirling this year. “I was never in sports before and never considered myself athletic.  Twirling is a dream for me.”  She said being part of the team is the best experience she’s ever had.  “Twirling is something personal.  Grades and college mean a lot to me and I was beginning to get anxious about it.  Twirling has helped me let go.  When I have a baton in my hand, it unleases my spirit.”

Placca, a Spanish teacher at the high school, said twirling was special to her growing up.  “It gave me so much.  It gave me confidence.  I’m lucky as an adult to still be involved in an activity that has given me so much.”

Competitive twirler Morton, 16, said twirling has brought her friendships.  “The friendships you get here are genuine – we’ve bonded.  It’s special.”  Morton, a junior, said she never thought she’d be a champ.  “Then Mrs. P. said, ‘you guys are going to be champions’ and we actually started winning.  She was right.”

Sixteen-year old Foster began twirling in 7th grade.  “When I first started, the older girls showed me how.  They taught me patience.”  She said she can be herself with her team.  “No one judges me. When I first realized that we had to perform in front of people, I was afraid.  I didn’t even like to talk in front of people.  Twirling has taught me that I’m beautiful and have no need to hide who I am.”

“This team has blown me away,” said Placca.  “Four of the five girls are new to the competition team.  They motivate me.  They have given me more than I could hope for as a coach.  It’s special to see them shining.”

Selby, 18, said twirling has played a huge role in her life since she began four years ago.  “I love being a part of a unique sport and having performance opportunities to show my love for the sport. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to be on this team and make lifelong friends who share my passion for the sport.”

“My coach has run such a rewarding program that taught me to feel confident and proud performing the sport I love,” continued Selby. 

Placca said Selby, a senior, is the first twirler from Union High School to win a scholarship in twirl from the NJTA.  She will be attending Rutgers New Brunswick and will be one of their feature baton twirlers.

 

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Union

Construction Update on Vauxhall Ave. Bridge, Chestnut St. Bridge and Morris Avenue Work

June 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – A CodeRed alert about road construction, the resulting congestion, and what can be expected, was sent to residents Tuesday morning.

The message said the work on these state roads is being performed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.  The message outlined the following work scheduled for June and July:

The Vauxhall Bridge over Route 22.  Work ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 6/18

Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 10:00 a.m., Senior Center
Adult Coloring, 1:15 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Construction Zone, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library
Read to Waldi, 4:15 p.m., Union Public Library
Connect, Explore & Discover Digital Resources, 7:00 p.m., Union Public Library

Tuesday, ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 6/11

Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 10:00 a.m., Senior Center
Adult Prize Bingo, 1:15 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Construction Zone, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library
Career Coach, 6:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Donuts with Your Dude,6:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library

Tuesday, 6/12

Senior Citizens ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_373282f5e1d3b5232b81_mini_magick20180620-4022-12sykna

Fri, June 22, 12:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Union

Drop in Craft Friday

Carousel_image_d44bfd734599e1c3061a_njso_and_summer_arts_festival_flyer

Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Mountainside

Union County’s Free Summer Arts Concert Series: ...

Carousel_image_415aacf78687dcb7fab9_rock_painting

Mon, June 25, 1:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Let's Create Rock Art

Carousel_image_ec9461df1cd0015cf41f_mini_magick20180620-4048-snbre5

Mon, June 25, 3:30 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Construction Zone

Taylor Heggins Named to Spring 2018 Dean's List at American International College

June 21, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, MA - Taylor Heggins, of Union, has been named to the Spring 2018 Dean's List at American International College (AIC) in Springfield, MA. Dean's List students are full-time students with a grade point average between 3.3 and 4.0.Heggins is majoring in Health Science at AIC.

Founded in 1885, American International College (AIC) is a private, co-educational, doctoral granting ...

Union Residents Make Dean's List at the University of Delaware

NEWARK, DE - Students from Union have been named to the University of Delaware Dean's List for the Spring 2018 semester:

Natalie Caggiano 

Julia Hayes 

Steven Medina 

Maria Rocha 

To meet eligibility requirements for the Dean's List, a student must be enrolled full-time and earn a GPA of 3.33 or above (on a 4.0 scale) for the semester.

 

Kayla Douberley Graduates Elmira College

ELMIRA, NY - Kayla Douberley of Union was among the graduates celebrated at the 160th Elmira College Commencement on Saturday, June 2. The exercises, held at the Murray Athletic Center, Pine Valley, included 270 undergraduate and 27 graduate students.

Members of the 2018 Elmira College graduating class were recognized with multiple honors and prizes, including induction into Phi Beta Kappa, ...

Video: Union County Celebrates Pride Month with CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic

June 18, 2018

RAHWAY, NJ - Parents, children, friends, and all family members came out on Saturday afternoon to Rahway River Park for the Union County CommUNITY PRIDE Day Picnic.

The family-friendly celebration hosted by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, was a day of fun activities of arts and crafts, family lawn games, inflatable bounce houses, playground fun and more, along with music by the ...

Honey Bees Found in Dumpster Relocated

UNION COUNTY, NJ – The County found themselves in a sticky situation last week when a swarm of honey bees were discovered at a construction dumpster at the County Administration building.

A social media post by the County said a pair of beekeepers from the nonprofit organization Groundwork Elizabeth came to the scene on Friday, and the bees were relocated to the Elmora Public Library, as ...

Union Catholic Grad, Olympian Sydney McLaughlin Wins NCAA Title, Announces She's Going Pro

EUGENE, OREGON — College freshman phenom Sydney McLaughlin, who graduated from Union Catholic last year, won the women's 400-meter hurdles for the University of Kentucky at the NCAA Championships on Saturday at Hayward Field, and then announced after the meet that she's turning pro.

McLaughlin, a U.S. Olympian in the 400 hurdles in 2016, completed one of the ...

Boundless Talent on Display at Hannah Caldwell School

June 15, 2018

UNION, NJ –Talent was on full display last week as over 40 students participated in Hannah Caldwell School’s Talent Show, with singing, dancing, musical instrument performances, and even a comedian.

“This is a special performance because the children are in control.  All of the acts in the show were prepared outside of school by the students,” said music teacher ...

Battle Hill and Hannah Caldwell Students Celebrate Reading Accomplishments

UNION, NJ – Young readers in Hannah Caldwell and Battle Hill Elementary Schools enjoyed the fruits of their labor on Wednesday when they celebrated their accomplishments in this year's Olympic Reading Programs.

Librarian Karen Franciosa said, “I couldn't be more proud of the students who worked diligently throughout the year to accomplish their personal reading ...

Red Carpet Moment for Union High Seniors

UNION, NJ – Prom night for Union High School seniors means red carpet glamour.  

And glamour was on full display at the annual red carpet walk Thursday evening, as Union High students walked the red carpet, alone or with their date(s), to a cheering crowd. 

Sponsored by the Union Township Community Action Organization, Inc., the event showcased beautiful gowns ...

Cranford High Student Competes at U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier

June 21, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS - Cranford soon-to-be senior Johnny Bush took his shot to qualify for a USGA championship on Wednesday.

Bush shot a 6-over-par 76 (38-38) to finish in a five-way tie for 21st place in a U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifier at the par 70, 6,558-yard Shackamaxon Country Club in nearby Scotch Plains.

65 golfers, including 54 from the Garden State, took a ...

Charges Pending Against Roselle Man Found with More than 40 Dogs Living in Squalor

ROSELLE, NJ - A Roselle man will be charged with multiple criminal offenses after more than 40 dogs were discovered living in severely unsanitary and inhumane living conditions in his home last week, according to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

According to the authorities, members of those two agencies, the ...

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

Mountainside Officials: We Knew Nothing About Allegations Until Lawsuit was Filed

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – The mayor and council of Mountainside have gone on record stating they had no knowledge of the incidents alleged in the lawsuit filed on May 11 against the borough “until the filing of the lawsuit.”

The borough has also “retained former New Jersey State Police Superintendent Joseph Santiago” to help restore public trust in the department, ...

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

June 21, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

Union County Residents Can “Recycle Right” without Plastic Bags

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds residents that plastic bags and other excluded items cannot be recycled through their local curbside pick-up programs.

“Union County residents have a good recycling rate compared to other counties in our state, and we want to improve on this record and set a high bar,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “Every ...

Union County’s Free Summer Arts Concert Series Launches this Friday, June 22

Union County, NJ – The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicks off Union County’s 57th annual Summer Arts Festival series of free outdoor concerts sponsored by the Freeholder Board with an evening of Broadway favorites, beloved opera overtures and more on Friday June 22nd at 7:30 p.m. at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

Attendees are also invited to bring a mat ...

Union Catholic's Goldera Surles has Received a Prestigious Scholarship

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Goldera Surles, one of the state's top bowlers during her career at Union Catholic, was recently awarded a very prestigious scholarship by The National Bowling Association, Inc.  

Surles, who will continue her bowling career at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y. this fall, was awarded the first place Owen O. Washington Scholarship, which was ...

Columns

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

Could Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational Be on Justify's Agenda?

June 13, 2018

ELMONT, NY — Triple Crown winner Justify came out of his stall to meet the media bright and bouncing on the morning after his gate-to-wire win in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

When asked to assess his colt's win, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported, “We were watching replays of the race. He could have gone around again.”

The brilliantly colored ...

Letters to the Editor

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 8, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...