Thursday, June 17, 2010

Small winter guard steps up to compete

(S, PSN)
"5 and 6, and 5,6,7,8," the flutter of flags sounds in the gym as everyone counts out their twists, twirls and throws. The small team of eight practiced their routine to the music of Lady Gaga that plays from a small radio on the far side of their half of the gym. The mat lies on the floor along with the other flags they may use today. They practice the first eight counts, and then they practice them again. As they continue, one girl attempts a throw of a flag. she barely retrieves it. There is a squeal and a jump, as she celebrates her first catch. This is Winter Guard.
Winter Guard is a dance team that performs with the marching bband in the fall season, but is on their own in the winter. The equipment: flags of all different colors made up of "the pole, silk and crutch-tips." The music: "Imagine" by John Lennon and sung by Avril Lavign. The space: half of the East Gym. The task: perfect the routine.
"[Winter Guard] is a lot of hours and technique work," junior Esther Shufutinsky said. "It is a lot of ballet, dance, unison and staying on count."
Winter Guard is made up of eight members, one of who, Peggy Holm, is in eighth grade at Thunder Ridge Middle School. "I came to watch my sister and fell into the team," Holm, sophomore Ashleigh Holm's younger sister, said.
For some, the attraction is the routines, for others it is the music, but for junior Liz Goranson, it was the combination of both that drew her to Guard. "The moment I picked up a flag, I fell in love," Goranson said. "I was able to combine my love of music and dance, and it gave me a feeling of accomplishment. It's the best feeling in the world."
The team says it is upsetting and frustrating having such a small guard, but with encouragment from Director Devin Stevens and Assistant Director Seth Dean, they are confident that they have the potential to advance in their class. As a team, Winter Guard said, "Even though we have a small guard we can still be awesome."
The Guard's current routine uses three flags and is performed to the song "Imagine." "[With this routine], we are trying to convey a sense of peace around the world," said Shufutinsky.
They performed this routine Saturday, Mach 27 at the Finals competition.
Despite taking seventh out of seven teams at Finals, Winter Guard is determined to make it to the top level of this trying sport, and they are confident that all of their late-night practices, determination, and passion will help them on their way.
And that one completed catch was just the beginning.

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