Twirling with a star

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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One Nansemond River High School alumnus loves sharing his love for baton twirling with others. However, he did not expect to share it with one of the top tennis players in the world.

Simeon Guyton is a twirler with the Hampton University marching band. On Dec. 18, his team was told at the last minute they were performing during halftime for the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic HBCU Basketball game at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. While the group was warming up, someone asked to see his baton and he happily obliged, not knowing it was Serena Williams’ publicist.

“When they asked to see my baton, I said sure,” said Guyton. “I am a very giving person, and I like seeing people try twirling. It’s not a very recognized sport, so I’m always happy to share the love.”

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Then when Williams herself came up and asked, he didn’t recognize her but was happy to let her try it out. When she finally took off her mask was when Guyton realized what was happening.

Michael B. Jordan started this game to raise support for HBCUs, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Williams was present with her investment company, Serena Ventures. She was also preparing to present a donation during halftime when she saw the Hampton University twirlers practicing.

She asked to film Guyton as he practiced some of his moves and then videoed herself dancing with the baton. As they did their parts of the dance-off, Guyton’s teammates were cheering them both on in the background.

“She did her thing, and she was just killing it,” said Guyton. “Then she handed me her phone to put my Instagram tag in, and I was so starstruck to be holding Serena Williams’ phone.”

On Jan. 5, Williams posted the dance-off on her TikTok and Instagram and tagged Guyton. The video received comments from big names, including Diane Keaton, Angelica Ross, and Ciara, whose song “Level Up” was put over the video.

“I was more excited that Hampton University and baton twirling were being recognized,” said Guyton. “I was happy to share the love.”

Watch the video on Instagram or on TikTok.