ST. MARYS — Ginny Maurer, of Kettlersville, has always loved being around children and began babysitting as soon as she was old enough. She began teaching girls baton twirling as a junior in high school.
“I started teaching some of the neighbor girls when I was a junior,” Maurer said. “That went on and more girls started asking me to teach them baton twirling. When I was a senior, I started my actual first corps, the Jenn-Ettes. They were named after Fort Jennings, which was my hometown.”
After the Jenn-Ettes, Maurer formed the High Stepping Debs Baton Corps before joining the Lake-Ettes in St. Marys.
“When I got married and moved down this way, I started with the Lake-Ettes of St. Marys,” she said. “I had them for a about a year, and then I went to work for the Veterans of Foreign Wars 9289. I worked with them for about seven years, and at the same time that I worked there, I started the Ginger Snaps in 1971.”
Ginny’s Ginger Snaps Baton Corps was originally composed of four girls — Donna Bruggeman, Peggy Chilcoat, Penny Chilcoat and Susie Kelley, all of St. Marys. In 1972, the corps earned first place in the junior division of the World Twirling Association’s National Contest in Cleveland. The parade corps was founded not long after and included Peggy Chilcoat, Penny Chilcoat, Denise Gillispie, Jeanne Ginter, Kendra Grimm, Jean Hastreiter, Laura Hickerson, Tammy Knapp, Linda Kohlhorst, Becky Normman, Willie Rockwood and Debbie Topp. Maurer noted that for most of the 40 years, Maggie Bruner, of St. Marys, was the treasurer for the nonprofit organization and an important member of the team.
“She not only was the treasurer, she was my right-hand gal for a lot of years,” Maurer said of Bruner.
During its 40 years, the Ginger Snaps have performed in numerous competitions, earning titles including the World Twirling Association National Show Team Champion, the Junior Ohio State Parade Corps Champion, Dance and Show Champion and Show Corps Champion.
“We had a lot of fun before and after competitions — the celebrating when we did well,” she said. “I’m not saying we always won, there were a lot of times that we didn’t.”
Maurer noted one of the most memorable times with the Ginger Snaps Baton Corps was when the group won nationals in the 80s.
“The girls were all fussing because they didn’t want their hair up under their hats — at the time we had a cowboy theme — and they were grumpy about it,” Maurer said. “(Bruner) told her daughter, ‘You have to get your hair up under that hat because that could make the difference.’ We actually won by one point and that was on the inspection. We had perfect inspection.”
For some time, there was also a drum corps. During the decades, “The Snaps” were instructed by Tom Knous Sr., Mike McGlouhin, Clarence Pfaadt, Mark Elsass and Steve Ginter. The drum corps was also successful.
“At one point we had around 17 drummers,” Maurer said. “When we would go to competitions, they won a lot of awards too with the group.”
To celebrate 40 years, Ginny’s Ginger Snaps Baton Corps have had a busy parade schedule, marching in the Celina Lake Festival parade and the SummerFest parade, and plans to march in the Bremenfest parade and St. Marys Halloween parade. The corps was named the grand marshal of the SummerFest parade.
“It was a real honor,” Maurer said of being named the grand marshal. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
Currently, the corps is composed of girls from St. Marys, Celina, New Bremen, Sidney, Anna, Coldwater and Wapakoneta. While the group no longer goes to competitions, the Ginger Snaps march in several parades every year and hold an annual recital, in addition to several fun events throughout the year.
“We have a Valentine’s Cake Walk, we have a big Easter egg hunt, a Halloween party, a Christmas party — it’s a bunch of fun things,” Maurer said. “We have a big awards banquet, where the parents come and the kids and all their families are invited.”
Maurer noted being in the corps teaches kids about working as a team.
“I think it teaches kids teamwork, working with others and getting along,” she said. “It can be a fun thing, but we work hard, too.”
Working with all of the children in the corps, Maurer said, is one of the most enjoyable parts.
“I just love kids,” she said. “I just love doing this. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a lot of fun. I’ve met so many nice families. I still keep in contact with a lot of them and that’s been a real good thing.”
Next year, Maurer will celebrate 50 years of teaching baton twirling.
“I plan on continuing teaching as long as I have the excitement for it,” she said. “I was just talking with my friends about this the other day, and I said ‘I think we’ll know when it’s just no longer fun to do and we’re not able to do it.’ Right now I’m still having fun with it.”
Classes at Ginny’s Ginger Snaps Baton Corps begin in September. Anyone interested in joining the corps can contact Maurer at 419-394-6809 or at 937-693-3513.