When Candlelight Plaza resident Suzannah Mays turned 60 years old in June 2018, she decided she wanted to learn how to twirl.
“I had always wanted to twirl but never got around to learning,” Mays said. “My cousin twirls and taught me the basics and a few tricks. So I practiced and practiced and practiced and got bruises on my arms, hands, legs, head – all over. But, I learned how to twirl.”
Not only did she learn how to twirl, but Mays learned that she loved it.
“It is so fun and is great exercise, and improvement results are readily apparent,” Mays said.
Mays works downtown in the energy industry and gets to practice twirling while she walks to lunch.
“People come up to me and say, ‘I used to twirl,’” Mays said. “It’s a magnet for people.”
After spending 25 years in Los Angeles pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, Mays has got the bug again. When she realized there weren’t any twirlers in the Astros’ World Series championship parade in 2017, she got the idea to recruit fellow twirlers into a group to support parades in downtown Houston.
“People love parades, and they love to watch twirling.” Mays said. “I kept encountering professional women (who twirled).”
Now the Astwirls have team members who were featured twirlers at the University of Texas, Southern Methodist University, Stephen F. Austin University, Ohio State University, and a flag twirler from the University of Houston.
“We even have a rope twirler and two hoop twirlers,” Mays said. “It took on a life of its own and I just try to facilitate it.”
She has been working on getting a trademark for Astwirls, a process that has been going on for a year now and she said is in the final stages.
Learning as she goes, Mays said that in the effort to register for a category that already existed, making it less expensive, she ended up registering for one that sold goods and provided “entertainment in the nature of a baseball game.” So now she sells batons and is trying to figure out the logistics and rules of Astwirls, the game.
While she might start over with the trademark process, for now, she says she enjoys the challenge.
“I’m going where this leads me,” Mays said.
Still actively recruiting twirlers, Mays also has a long-term goal of a foundation that works with underserved youth to teach twirling as well as social skills and business etiquette.
“I want to open up new worlds for them,” Mays said.
And the next time the Astros are in a championship parade, Mays will be ready. She was ready in October, when the Astros returned to the World Series but lost to the Washington Nationals in seven games.
“I reached out to the City of Houston (during last year’s playoff run), but they told me they don’t plan ahead,” Mays said. “The jinx factor.”