Winter guard continues to triumph in cold weather

First Posted: 3/25/2009

DOBSON Known as the sport of the arts, winterguard has taken Surry County by storm.
Winterguard is similar to the color guard that performs with marching bands. Both organizations rely on flags, rifles and sabers as well as dancing to perform intricate routines to music. Winterguard takes place after marching band season comes to an end and routines are performed inside a gymnasium with each group bringing their own floor covering to correspond with the show.
Surry Central High Schools team is in its second year and the desire has trickled down to Central Middle School which has its first team in school history this year. Both teams performed for the students at Central Middle School on Wednesday to show off what they have learned
At the high school, the members participate in colorguard in the marching band during the fall and then make the transition to winterguard once that season is over. For Emily Draughon, the desire to be in guard started in middle school when she went to football games and saw the high school colorguard performing with the band.
It boosts my self-esteem, she said. When people are screaming and clapping, you know your hard work has paid off.
Being on a guard takes hard work and patience, but members of the Surry Central winterguard think it is worth it in the end.
Its kind of addicting, said Amber Judy. Its scary but its exciting at the same time.
Its a challenge, added Kierstin Draughon. They throw different stuff at us every practice.
For their show titled Club Central, the high school students had the chance to help pick their own music. They chose a song they used last year for warm-ups.
John Tucker (the choreographer) feels that the high school kids should have ownership. If you dont like the music, youre not going to put forth your best effort, said Mike Hyde, instructor.
The high school group has competed at Scotland High School this year and has become eligible to compete in the Carolina Winter Ensemble Association at Winthrop University on Saturday. They compete in the Scholastic 4-A class against 16 other schools, including Rock Hill High School, Northwestern High School JV and Central Cabarrus High School.
Central Middle School formed a winterguard team for the first time this school year. They began practicing in December and have competed in two competitions with their show, How the West Was Won. The team placed third in the competition at Scotland High School and moved up to place second in the competition in Gastonia. For the second competition, the teams score was more than 14 points higher than the first. From a panel of five judges, two even placed them in first.
The students have realized that being on a winterguard team has been a great deal of hard work and has required dedication and patience.
Its been hard at times. We had to redo the dance in a week, said Brittany Epperson.
Its not like any other sport. You have to be graceful as you toss. Its more challenging than a lot of other sports, said Elizabeth Epperson. It takes a lot of focus and you have to practice. You have to have patience but its a good experience.
Participating on a team such as winterguard has taught the students to get along with one another even if they were not previously friends. They have also learned that having support can make a difference.
We learned to talk to each other and get along, said Angelica Jimenez.
Its like a big, giant family, said Elizabeth. Friends dont fight. Were like sisters, we argue but we still try to work it out.
Its all because of our parents support. The high schoolers have been a big support too, said Cassidy Hyde of the groups success.
The group was formed by Mike and his wife, Martha, when he moved to Surry County from Florida where he was involved in a winterguard program for 11 years. He became involved in judging to learn how to start a new program in Surry County, specifically at Surry Central where he teaches band.
Last year we started our own guard and I absolutely love it, he said.
He decided to start a middle school program this year to spark an interest in guard before the students reach high school. As the band director at Central Middle, he had the resources and the support of the staff.
Mrs. Atkins (the principal at Central Middle) has been really supportive of the group. Theyre very supportive of everyone here. I cant say how proud she is of this group thats making history. They are the first middle school group in the area, he said. Im very excited about it. They are full of energy.
Both teams compete away from Surry County which means their peers do not often have the opportunity to see them perform. The performance at Central Middle and last year at Surry Central High gave them that chance and also created a way to recruit others to join the teams.
We dont get much recognition, said Draughon since the competitions are far away. Last year when we performed for the high school everybody was screaming for us. If you like challenges, you should consider it.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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