Serena and Venus Williams may be the most popular sports sister act, but there’s another duo from Olympia starting to turn some heads.
Twins Katiana and Kirsandra Welsheimer are baton twirlers. They’ll turn 15 Friday.
“It’s not something everybody does, so right there it is unique,” says their mom, Judy, who has been coaching twirling for 30 years.
The sport combines dance, agility, coordination, and flexibility. Twirlers must also be fearless as they throw a baton 50 feet in the air and try to catch it.
“In my group, the first thing they are taught is that they are not allowed to say ‘I can’t.’ No negatives are allowed because that’s negative energy bouncing off,” said Judy.
Judy has coached hundreds of kids over the years at her Fantasia Twirling Studio in Olympia, including Katiana and Kirsandra.
“Baton twirling is really fun. You get to meet a lot of people and throw up metal sticks. That’s pretty cool and not many people do that,” said Katiana.
Kat and Kirsy started twirling at the age of two.
“They won their first national cup when they were eight years old,” said Judy.
And they’ve been winning ever since.
The sisters, now sophomores, are considered two of the best in the nation. They’ve been crowned regional, state, and national champs. This past August they won on one of the biggest twirling stages — the International Cup in Canada.
“It showed that all of our work has paid off, because sometimes we have hard practices and wondered if this is working,” said Kirsey.
They had stressful moments along the way. Kat suffered a back injury five months before the big competition. But she fought back and, with an international title on the line, the Welsheimers were at their best.
”You have to know the person and work with them and know their body movements and work together because, if it’s not together, it just looks really bad. But if you are together, it’s really cool and fast and it’s like, ‘Oh. That’s possible. You can do that,” said Kat.
“When we came off, we talked to some people and they said we can really tell you guys love each other and love what you’re doing and to hear that was one of the most precious things I could have heard,” said Kirsey.
The best friends won gold in artistic pairs with their coach by their side. But more importantly, Coach Judy is first and foremost Kat and Kirsey’s mom.
“To have done it not only for ourselves, but for our country, there is no words to describe the pride you feel knowing your daughters achieved that,” said Judy.
The sisters hope to attend the University of Washington to become the first baton twirling sister act.