AAU Junior Olympics – Baton Twirling
Piecing together the history of baton twirling in the AAU Junior Olympics has been challenging. Very little is mentioned about baton twirling on AAU’s website. Also, very little is mentioned in various indepdent narratives about the organization. We know a few things:
- Diane Shelton competed in and won the national AAU Baton Twirling Championship in 1957 or 1958.
- The young lady pictured in this post won a gold medal at AAU Junior Olympics in 1981.
- Hundreds of stories about AAU Baton Twirling competitions and winners ran in newspapers across the country including the Austin-American in 1982; Spokane Review in 1978; the Kilgore News Herald in 1965, and the Shreveport Journal in 1959.
- AAU began posting baton twirling results in 1999. The Vintage Twirler only documents baton twirling through 1999. Click here to review results from that year. To review the results from all years, click here.
This photo features a 1981 AAU Junior Olympics Gold Medal Winner in Baton Twirling. Her name and level of competition are unknown; however, she was 10-years-old. The photo was shared around 2019 on a discussion website by the subject’s son. We restored the photo and removed a cluttered background that distracted from its beauty.
The “National Championship AAU Junior Olympics” patch on the sleeve of her jacket provides a wonderful record of the event. In addition, she’s holding her baton, which adds to the historic significance of the photo.
Also, the Hang Ten track jacket with rainbow belting provides a nice timestamp. Yo, Generation X. What a great relic of the 1980s childhood.
Cover Photo Epigraph
The cover photo on this post features Johnnie Diaz Ornelas, a top winner in baton twirling at the AAU Junior Olympics in the early 1980s. Diaz was also a high-achieving twirler in the National Baton Twirling Association. She was once photographed by famous street photographer Gary Krueger.