To say I am grateful for baton twirling is a huge understatement. Believe it or not, there isn’t a day that goes by, even at the age of 54, that I don’t say a little prayer of thanks for all my twirling years with Shirley Payne and the Dallas Dolls.
I started taking baton twirling class from Miss Shirley when I was about 9 years old. I had been taking dance classes and then I touched a baton. It was love at first spin. Soon, I graduated to being a member of the Dallas Dolls by the early 1970’s, which felt like being in a select group of very special twirlers. Twirling gave me loads of pride, a big sense of self-accomplishment and high self-esteem.
I became really good friends with some of the girls who took lessons from Miss Shirley, too. We were like a family. We all spent many Saturdays together at twirling contests. Memories include rhinestone-embellished costumes, white KEDS tennis shoes, white bobby-socks, fake hair pieces, gleaming tiaras, smell of hair spray and loudly echoing marching band tunes in big gymnasiums from sunrise to sunset.
Taking twirling lessons from Miss Shirley helped me to become the first feature twirler for Bishop Lynch High School.
Without my background in baton twirling, I would not be as successful in my entrepreneurial endeavors. Shirley Payne prepared me for much more than twirling contests. She gave me a life-long gift. I am authentically living my truth today because of what she taught me and what I grew up doing in my younger years! I simply can’t thank her enough and I’m so very grateful for the experiences I had being in the Dallas Dolls under Miss Shirley’s direction. I learned to keep trying even when I make mistakes…that sometimes I win, but sometimes I lose…to hold my head high…to smile and have confidence…and most importantly, to always add a few rhinestones! These timeless skills and traits have carried me through my life beautifully.
-- Geri Piccola McNiece
Around Joy at The Hoop Shack
I was a member at Texas Touch of Class with Miss Sheila and Miss Shirley for six years. During those six years, I grew into the woman I am today. Their knowledge of the sport, gifted teaching, discipline, and encouragement created an atmosphere where I could not only grow as an athlete, but as a young woman. I learned life lessons, made memories to last a lifetime, and fell more in love with the sport of baton twirling. I owe so much of who I am today to Miss Sheila and Miss Shirley due to their guidance and support during the most formative years of my life.
Texas Touch of Class afforded me exceptionally unique and exciting opportunities that led me all over the country, from Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL to Las Vegas, NV to New Orleans, LA, and South Bend, IN. I also had the special privilege to become the first featured twirler at Dallas Christian High School in Mesquite, TX. My time twirling at Dallas Christian led me to be a part of the Abilene Christian University Big Purple Marching Band, where I had twirling feature spotlights at many exciting events such as ACU’s centennial homecoming, parades, pep rallies, and football games.
Twirling with Miss Sheila and Miss Shirley, and having the honor of wearing “the rose” on my back has been one of the most special times in my life. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Texas Touch of Class, Miss Sheila and Miss Shirley. I came to Texas Touch of Class expecting to improve my skills as an athlete and win titles. I definitely did those things, and am grateful for them. What is even more important is that I found a place that I will always call home, and we all know that there is no place like home.
-- Tiffany Thompson Steele
Thank you for all your dedication to the girls this past season. The things you taught last year and this year, made a huge difference in the teams placement at UIL State. I pray the new squad will continue with you. I give you and Sheila a lot of credit for our great placement.
-- Sharon McGlover
DeSoto High School
Miss Shirley and Miss Sheila are outstanding teachers! I took lessons from Miss Shirley and was part of the Dallas Dolls twirling team in elementary through high school and was the feature twirler at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas.
In regards to technical skills, Miss Shirley and Miss Sheila were both award winning twirlers themselves. It was nice to know that they were “in your shoes” at one time and could demonstrate and describe the techniques to you.
Being involved with twirling helped me develop skills beyond just twirling techniques.
· It taught me to be persistent when learning new things. Miss Shirley would always say that the word “can’t” is not in our vocabulary.
· Through competing in twirling pageants, I learned important interview skills, which have been beneficial to my business career.
· Competing with the Dallas Dolls team and as an individual instilled in me the value of learning to both win and lose. Winning was an
inspiration to continue working hard, and losing was a motivation to practice harder and do better the next time. Learning not to give
up when you lose is a valuable life lesson.
· Being on a twirling team gave me insight at a young age into working with different personality types and leveraging each team member’s
strengths and weaknesses, which are also useful skills to have in the workforce.
I went on to graduate with an accounting degree from Texas A&M University, and I feel that many of the skills I developed through twirling, such as perseverance, patience, and poise, have helped me throughout life, and in my professional career as well.
-- Sharmila Hindocha McDonald
Twirling with Texas Touch of Class (TTOC) has been one of the most significant decisions I have ever made. I began with taking some beginner lessons in 5th grade and ended up twirling with them until I departed for college. With TTOC I received not only professional baton twirling lessons, but also my instructors Miss Shelia and Miss Shirley taught all of us, to be confident, intelligent, and upstanding young ladies; ladies whom I call my sisters in the TTOC family.
With the continued guidance from my instructors, I was able to realize my own goal of becoming Highland Park High School’s feature twirler, a privilege I will always cherish. Becoming feature twirler at a high school unfamiliar with baton twirlers was a difficult road, but it showed me that with hard work and dedication, there wasn’t much I couldn’t accomplish.
-- Amber Appel
Confessions of a Dallas Doll
What a wonderful surprise to read in The Advocate that Shirley Payne, AKA Miss Shirley, is still at it, teaching the art of twirling! Way back in the early 70’s, she taught me so much more! She took a teenager that had no grace on dry land and gave me the skills to not only become a majorette at Woodrow Wilson High School, but to be able to walk gracefully with excellent posture. In addition to twirling competitions, she also formed a twirling corps called “The Dallas Dolls”. We were able to give back to the community by performing at Police and Firemen footballs games and other events. She had plenty of cracker-jack twirlers that had so much experience and talent but she found a place for me to excel in a short time period by guiding me toward military-style twirling- I still have the trophies to prove it! So, if you are lucky enough to be one of Miss Shirley’s students, I hope you know that even if you’re not one of those uber-talented twirlers, she will bring out the very best in you with guaranty of a great experience. If you’re real lucky, she’ll consider bringing back The Dallas Dolls!
-- With gratitude and fondness,
Mary Hudel Rinne
Ebby Halliday Realtors
In the neighborhood where I grew up, there were no batons...there were no pageant dresses...there were no teams of athletes who loved and cared for one another like sisters...and there was no...MISS SHIRLEY.
In the 8th grade I decided to try out on a whim for Junior High majorette. My mom was a high school majorette, so she showed me a few things with a cut off end of a broom stick. I showed up to tryouts with a tape of Proud Mary and a prayer. Since I didn’t own a baton, I borrowed one from another girl. Even though I froze during the tryout and forgot my routine, I made it. From there, the rest was pure luck, sweat, and a few tears. The 3 majorettes began lessons with Shirley Payne to learn half time routines. She sold me more than my first baton. She sold me every ounce of self confidence I would carry with me through life.
Being a member of the prestigious Dallas Dolls was an honor for a shy, thin, young girl who had never been taught to work hard and never ever give up. I had started the sport much later than most of my team members, so I had twice the work to do. Miss Shirley knew she had a diamond in the rough, although I just couldn’t see it at the time. More than once, she sent me home in the middle of my lesson due to my horrible temper. She’d say, "You pack your bag and go to the car, and when you get there, you can explain to your mom who worked all day and then drove you all the way here, why you haven’t practiced." Tough love...works!
By the time I was in the 9th grade, I had won many awards, trophies, medals, and pageant crowns. NOW I UNDERSTOOD! She would absolutely change my life. I realized that without a full scholarship, I would not be able to attend college. 4 years...full ride...was the reward. As an adult, I can go in to a job interview and nail it every time thanks to hours of her training. As a woman, I know how to walk the walk and talk the talk...all because an angel named Shirley Payne knew someday I would fly.
Thank you, Miss Shirley for all your blessings on my life!
-- Darla Presley - Dallas Doll
Red Oak High School Feature Twirler
Southeastern Oklahoma State University Feature Twirler