Mariah and daughter

Mariah Palmiter featured for Parks Make Life Better!

By Cady Nagy-Chow:

This year, Cordova Recreation & Park District (CRPD) has joined other parks and recreation agencies state-wide in recognizing Parks Make Life Better! Month (PMLB Month). Parks Make Life Better! Month is a celebration of Parks and Recreation as a community service, and a demonstration of how these services model compassion and inclusivity, and promote social equity.

In celebration of PMLB Month, CRPD has chosen to feature the story of one community member each week during the month of July to showcase community pride, recognize individual contributions and encourage the utilization of parks and recreation services.

For Mariah Palmiter, Parks Make Life Better! Month means the world to her, literally. Her relationship with Cordova Recreation & Park District is one that led her to worldwide competitions and championships, including a 2nd place team finish and an individual top ten placement at the International Cup. After watching her sister participate in the Baton Twirling program at Mather Sports Complex (MSC), Mariah began twirling with Revolution Twirl Club at age 10.

Mariah (right) and fellow competitors at the World Championships

“I only ever remember practicing at Mather. I spent eight hours a day, every single day, over summer there when I was young. I see the days I spent practicing at Mather as the ones that built important relationships for me. Some that mean so much to me personally, and some that have opened doors in the business world. It’s like a home to me, and where I’ve met some lifelong friends,” Mariah said.

Mariah performing at Oakmont High School in Roseville

Mariah enjoyed the sport and the program’s environment so much, she twirled throughout her career at Oakmont High School in Roseville, competing at the local, regional, national and international levels. Her dedication and passion for twirling manifested in the form of full-ride scholarship offers to both the University of Hawaii and the University of Memphis.

Because she had family in Memphis, Mariah chose to accept that scholarship and move to Tennessee to pursue collegiate twirling at the age of 17. When asked how CRPD/Revolution Twirl Club program helped prepare her for the collegiate and professional world, Mariah said “These long days of physical and mental work prepare our athletes for a full-time job. The girls I coach are 16-17, ready to compete in France with the world team and then twirl professionally. I was the same. Hard work and dedication are learned in this program, and the characteristics you build, you can continue adding to with a little bit more work,” Mariah said.

Returning to her roots

In 2013, Mariah returned to her roots and moved back to Sacramento to raise her daughter. A few years later, Mariah found herself missing the team environment and athletic component of twirling. Though she only had one year of dance training, her experience with twirling at MSC prepared her to make the Sacramento King’s Dance Team in 2016. “The twirling program opened up professional opportunities in the dance world for me. Normally that door would be closed. But going through this program allowed me to combine my twirling training with a bit of dance, to still be an asset to a professional NBA dance team. Plus, now I still have a great network that keeps professional doors open, like coaching or judging,” Mariah said.

Part of this network includes Kellie Pearlman, Mariah’s former coach and current Revolution Twirl Club Coach. “Kellie is like family to me,” Mariah said. When Mariah returned to her community, she found a way to give back to the program that shaped her into the professional athlete and person she is today. Following in the footsteps of Kellie, through coaching, Mariah gets to share her knowledge of the sport and mentor young twirlers in life. Kellie, who also began twirling in her youth with Cordova Recreation & Park District and returned to coach for the program years later said, “and to think it all started with a rec class at Hagan Community Park!”

While Mariah coaches Baton Twirling, her daughter participates in CRPD’s Kuk Sool Won program, Jr. Kings Clinics, or other activities held at MSC. “There’s so many great things offered here, and I would rather my daughter be running around, staying active, than sitting at home in front of a screen. The complex has so many options, which is great. Especially because you never know what you’ll like until you try it!” Mariah said.

With the variety of program options for her daughter to try while she is working, and a tighter budget to manage while she completes her master’s degree, Mariah feels grateful for parks and recreation facilities like Mather Sports Complex. “Going through parks and recreation classes is so helpful, especially the financial aspect for families. Competitive teams are so expensive, and you can get the same, or almost the same, training for less through rec. Plus, the opportunity to try classes without a huge commitment is also great for the little ones,” Mariah said.

Beyond Twirling

Beyond twirling and programs for her daughter, Mariah believes another great thing about frequenting Mather Sports Complex is seeing friends who participate in the adult programs and the evolution of her home. “While I’m coaching, sometimes I run into friends playing in the adult sports leagues. That’s fun because some of them were basketball players I met when I was young practicing here. All of us got really excited when the floor was redone with the King’s. Plus, we got to be first to utilize the remodel! All of the upgrades have been incredible,” Mariah said.

Mariah’s experiences showcase not only the lifelong physical benefits of program participation, but also the incredible relationships. “You meet other program participants when you’re around each other all the time, and when you spend enough time together, lasting friendships form,” Mariah said.

Kellie and Mariah recommend Baton Twirling because it helps improve confidence, hand-eye coordination, dance and life skills. Visit www.crpd.com for more information about Revolution Twirling Club’s classes offered by CRPD at Mather Sports Complex.

Cordova Recreation & Park District

Cordova Recreation & Park District is one of the largest independent special districts in Northern California serving over 120,000 residents and four school districts in the greater Sacramento area. CRPD provides over 40 parks and recreational facilities, as well as athletic camps, enrichment classes, educational programs and special events for the community.