Jayna Kubuske’s father, Jim, was a high school football coach when Jayna was growing up.
The Kubuske family always had Friday nights in the fall marked on its calendar to watch the high school bands and see what kind of team Jim, the former head coach at Lake High School, would put on the field.
Jayna didn’t play football, but she became very good at something else - baton twirling. Now a junior at Lake, Jayna took up twirling when she was 4 and is now the majorette for the Flyers’ marching band.
Her mother, Jessie, said when the family was living in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, Jayna saw a picture in the paper of a little girl with her twirling trophies and she thought that would be a fun thing to try.
“She was shy, so I thought that would be a good thing for her to do,” Jessie said. “She’s quite the performer now. Your eyes are drawn to her when she’s on the field. She’s got a sparkle.”
Last month, Jayna competed in a twirling competition at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus and came home with the Governor’s Cup trophy.
“I went into it this year as the reigning champion,” Jayna said. “When you go in, you compete in your solo and then all the girls from the advance solos twirl against each other. The winner from that wins the Governor’s trophy.”
Being the defending champion, she said, “definitely made me little nervous going into it.”
“I had to go against girls I beat last year, so it was definitely a little nerve wracking,” Jayna said. “I tried to relax and do my best and I ended up winning it again, which was exciting.”
Two weeks after the Ohio State Fair, on Aug. 23, Jayna competed in a majorette contest at the Allen County Fair. She twirled four batons at once in the High School Feature Twirler event and nabbed another first-place finish.
“I twirled against feature twirlers from other schools,” Jayna said. “It was exciting and I got another trophy out of that.”
She also won $100, which she is donating to the Lake High School Color Guard for its new costumes.
Andrea Whiting isn’t surprised by Jayna’s twirling success. Whiting has been Jayna’s coach for the past nine years with the Perrysburg Twirling Sophisticates, which is comprised of 25 twirlers from Northwest Ohio.
“She’s just got the ‘it’ factor,” Whiting said. “She pulls you in with her personality and makes you want to watch her and makes you have fun when you watch her. A lot of kids don't have the ability with their personality to pull you like that. That's why she is able to win so much and why she’s such a great performer on the football field.
“She has big aspirations of being a Big Ten football twirler. I think she can do it.”
Jayna, who is also a Lake varsity football cheerleader and sings in the school choir, said she remembers as a young girl being in a class that featured ballet, tap and baton.
“Doing the twirling, it just kind of stuck with me over time,” she said. “I was good at it when I was little and it just kind of stuck with me. Over the years, I just kept on doing it.”
But where did she find that “it” factor Whiting spoke of?
“I’m doing what I love to do already,” Jayna said. “I just have fun with it. Being out there under the lights is very fun for me and I want people to have a fun experience. People seem to enjoy watching me do it and I just feed off their energy, basically.”
Lake has about 50 band members this year, including the Color Guard, but Jayna is the lone majorette. She has been the band’s featured twirler since her freshman year, but this year she has added cheerleading duties that make her Friday nights “very, very hectic.”
Jayna changes into her cheerleading outfit after the band’s pre-game performance. At halftime she uses the rescue squad to change back into her majorette outfit for the band’s halftime performance.
When the band performance concludes, she rushes back to the rescue squad to change into her cheerleading uniform.
“I love it,” Jayna said.
“She does it all,” Whiting added. “She has lots of school spirit and is a very, very cool kid. She also twirls four batons at once, which is rare for high school. You usually see it in college. She’s just gutsy and she can do it, and it’s a pretty big deal.”
This is Jayna’s first year twirling four batons.
“It takes a lot of practice,” she said. “I have tons of bruises and scars to show for my twirling experiences. It’s always interesting.”