With its 2008 show, “Post Secret,” the Flanagan World Guard from Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., became only the third school since 1998 to win the WGI Scholastic World Championship. The previous 10 seasons had been dominated by James Logan High School, which won every championship from 1998 (when they tied with Miamisburg High School) to 2007, but the group didn’t attend World Championships in 2008. This year, though, James Logan will be back while the Flanagan World Guard looks to defend its title with its 2009 show, “Hopelandic.” Halftime Magazine recently got in touch with Dean Broadbent, director of the Flanagan World Guard, to find out about this year’s show and what it feels like to win a WGI World Championship.
Photo courtesy of WGI Sport of the Arts
Halftime: Tell me about your color guard background.
Broadbent: I played trumpet in high school; I was the drum major of the band. When I was 16, I went to a senior drum and bugle corps show, and I saw the Connecticut Hurricanes, and I wanted to march. My father actually knew the director of the drum corps, and when we went over to talk to him, he said the only spot they had open was in the guard. I eventually got better at that than I was at the trumpet.
I marched with the Hurricanes for two years, and then I went to The Cadets and marched there for four years. I have a degree in music education that I got at Western Connecticut State University … I taught the Boston Crusaders in ’97 and then I taught them in 2004 to 2006 … I started here [at Flanagan] in the fall of 2001.
I don’t know what it is about guard that makes it appeal to me more than any of the other marching activities. I just love the time of year, you know, how excited everyone gets for it.
Halftime: What makes your guard unique?
Broadbent: I think our school environment is really great for the activity. We have a principal that’s hired someone to run the color guard basically full time. There are four of us that are working with the world guard, and three of us are actually employed by the school. The principal understands how great of an activity this is for the kids. She actually came with us to WGI.
Halftime: What do you have planned for this season?
Broadbent: This year we’re traveling to three regionals. We are doing a show called “Hopelandic.”
We’ve used the group Sigur Ros before; we used them in 2007. They had a new CD come out with a song called “Festival.” Finding that song was really the catalyst. This year’s show is all about the language they have—the language “Hopelandic.”
The whole point of “Hopelandic” is that they don’t want to tell you what the message is: They want you to be able to figure it out … We just kind of thought that was super interesting for us, and we took that as our vehicle this year to create the show.
Halftime: How did your performers react to winning last year’s championship?
Broadbent: It was a Cinderella year for us last year. Everyone was overwhelmed. I don’t know if we expected it going into WGI, but it really made the kids feel like any of their dreams could come true. I think there was a moment of disbelief when it happened, for sure.
If you want to win WGI, you have to wake up everyday and know you’re going to win WGI. We didn’t used to do that. We used to be superstitious; we used to think if we said it, it wouldn’t happen. Now we just say what we want.
Halftime: What did you say to your group before their finals performance last year?
Broadbent: I told them, “No matter what happens, don’t let anyone tell you your dreams can’t come true.”
It doesn’t matter if the five people sitting in the stands decide you’re world champions or not; we got to this point. Our dreams came true. We didn’t need that last moment to make the season a great one. And it was; it was a great season. The fact that we won just made it a little better.
Halftime: … and after the performance?
Broadbent: I remember I asked them if they were happy. They all just laughed at me and smiled.
Halftime: How does it feel to be defending a WGI World Championship?
Broadbent: It’s kind of funny because I always thought in my color guard career that every time there‘s a new year, it’s a completely new year. But now every time I go anywhere to judge or anything, people love to ask that question. We’re going about things the exact same way as last year and hoping for the best. It’s a little scary. There are a lot of great color guards that came before us that we have to live up to.
Halftime: How do you motivate your group?
Broadbent: One of the things here at Flanagan is that it’s one of the highest honors to be in the World Guard. The school looks at the color guard as being one of the elite groups in the school.
We spend a lot of time each year really talking about the show we’re going to create. Everything we create has to do with more than just the staff telling the kids what to do … The kids actually become a part of the show. … I think doing that and having their own niche in the activity really makes the kids feel like the rock stars that they are.