Though at first feeling inept at spinning, one guard member navigated many new opportunities to hone her craft and leadership skills.
During my first season of high school marching band as a freshman trumpet player at Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas, I hardly noticed the four girls twirling flags at the back of the field.
When my friend asked me to go with her to winter guard tryouts in my second semester, I thought she was joking. No way was I coordinated enough to dance and maneuver a piece of equipment at the same time.
Turns out, I was right.
Actually, I did make the team but as a dance soloist. Now don’t let the title “soloist” fool you. I was a decent dancer, but I was only made a dance soloist because I could not spin a flag at all. I was so terrible that my high school guard director, Heather Hyde Wargo, nicknamed me “bad hands.”
However, after just a few weeks of joining color guard, I fell in love with the activity and practiced every second that I could. After a few months of practicing, I lost the nickname. And then I became captain of my color guard team by the beginning of my sophomore year.
Time to Connect
Being guard captain had its share of struggles. The first semester of my sophomore year was my first year being captain as well as my first experience with outdoor color guard. With the section growing from four to 12 members in only a year, I was not alone in feeling uncertain during the initial parts of that season. But with the support of my wonderful co-captain and director, I learned the responsibilities and expectations of a leader.
Marching band season and winter guard season proved to be fairly similar. Except for the Texas heat in the summer and fall, the rehearsals ran similarly, and the goal never changed: Work as hard as possible to make an enjoyable show for the performers and the audience.
However, the rehearsals ran a little faster-paced in the fall than during the winter season. With 100-plus students on the field taking instructions, a much longer show, and more limited rehearsal time, the color guard didn’t have as much time to bond like we did in the winter.
I felt responsible for creating opportunities for our section to get together, so my co-captain and I had parties, dinners, outings, anything we could to allow the team to connect. The effort we put forth to create a family became apparent during our performances.
Drum Corps Days and Lessons
Falling in love with color guard so quickly sparked my interest in drum corps. The summer going into my sophomore year, I attended my first drum corps clinic with the Oregon Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps and attended the ensemble’s 2018 auditions in December. I received a contract at my audition, and I felt overjoyed. To spin with a World Class group was a big goal of mine, and to have reached that goal as only a sophomore felt surreal.
Returning home after the season as a junior, I had a lot of knowledge and vocabulary that I wanted to share with my color guard to improve our program. I was able to give better feedback and corrections with what I had learned, and I was even given the opportunity to choreograph some of our fall marching show while our director was on maternity leave.
Wanting to know even more about the activity, I auditioned for the Blue Knights 2019 season and received a contract. Spinning with the Blue Knights was a dream. The staff was incredible, the members were as great as they were talented, and the show was one I’ll never forget.
I learned more about being a performer, a leader, and a teacher in three months than I ever thought possible. The Blue Knights provided me with knowledge and life lessons that I took back home with me to improve and lead my guard in a whole new way.
I now give more insightful feedback more quickly and effectively, and I strive to create a loving, family-like environment for my color guard, much like I found while I was at drum corps.
A Special Place
Being a senior means that my time left with my high school color guard is limited. Being a part of the group has given me the opportunity to discover myself, not only as a performer but also as a person. It has been an honor to watch my teammates grow and to be able to grow alongside them. Regardless of how far I go or how long I am away, the Clear Creek color guard will always hold a special place in my heart.
We’ve featured the Oregon Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps when they took gold in 2012 DCI Open Class. Learn more here.