The Stinger

Changing of Seasons: An Inside Look at Winter Guard

The+awards+with+Winter+Guard+won+over+the+course+of+their+competitive+season.+
The awards with Winter Guard won over the course of their competitive season.

The awards with Winter Guard won over the course of their competitive season.

The awards with Winter Guard won over the course of their competitive season.

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“FOCUS. You can do it!” the captain shouts after the director instructs the guard to practice the same part they’ve been working on for ten minutes.

These five words encourage a small change. This time it’s slightly better. Maybe someone didn’t drop their equipment, maybe they pointed their toes. This cycle is repeated many times throughout a single practice.

This is the inside world of the Rockwall Color Guard.

As part of the band, the Color Guard tends to get lost. People are aware of the team during marching season when they perform with the band, but during the spring semester they are almost forgotten all together.

But in Spring, they do their own thing.

The Color Guard changes gear and performs in competitions without the band. This is called Winter Guard.

The Rockwall Stinger had the chance to sit down with the Color Guard director, and a few members to learn more.

When asked to describe Color Guard, the director Whitney Knowles responded, “Color Guard helps bring music to life [with dance and …] different pieces of equipment such as flag, rifle or saber.”

Ms. Knowles has been involved in Color Guard in one way or another for fourteen years. One of the co-captains, Sarah Clifton, an RHS senior, says her favorite part of being on guard is that “we are not just a team, we are a family. We mess with each other and have fun.”

Color Guard has been around for a long time. Most of the time the Color Guard was part of the military. The flags helped to encourage soldiers during battle and capturing the enemy’s colors (flag) was a decisive victory. Flag-bearers were often skilled fighters tasked with protecting the flag or destroying it if they were to be captured.

Slowly, Color Guard has become what you see today on the football field during halftime shows. Now, instead of a military advance, it has become a type of entertainment that is challenging yet exciting.

Most Color Guard flag poles are six feet long. When asked about the difficulties of spinning, Ms. Knowles responded “Like most things that seem difficult at first, it just takes some practice.”

The flag is Ms. Knowles favorite piece of equipment because of “the ways it can be used to express different emotions depending on the style of song you are spinning to.”

The other co-captain senior Emily Dower remarked, “At first it was really hard to spin a flag that’s six-foot-tall considering I’m only 5’1”, but as I continued spinning I found ways to make it easier.”

A junior on the Color Guard, Ashley Hobbs, added what she felt was the hardest part of the team. “The hardest part is probably getting yourself to do a toss that you are really scared of doing.”

While everyone starts with spinning a flag, the more advanced members spin rifles. Sarah Cliffton began spinning rifles her freshman year. She claimed, “At first, it was the scariest thing ever. It hurt so much. I jammed fingers, popped blood vessels, and got bruises. But even with all the bad experiences they became my battle scars.” Sarah now enjoys spinning rifle the most.

At the end of the day, the RHS Color Guard is often overlooked and under-appreciated, but these students never stop giving it their all.

While guard is difficult, it is so entirely rewarding when you catch a perfect toss or “make one thing better,” something Ms. Knowles asks her students to do during rehearsal.

This season, the Winter Guard placed second in their first competition, and first from there on out. They won the state championship for the second year in a row.

If you’re considering joining Color Guard for marching season, fall auditions are April 16-19. Clinics are 16-18 from 4:30-6:30 in the RHS Band hall, and the audition is on the 19th.

While the team is currently made up of all female students, male students are welcome and encouraged to join.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

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