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My Magical Sport: Color Guard

There’s this saying, “To those who understand, no explanation needed. To those who don’t, no explanation possible.” This is true for this thing called Color Guard, the band can’t even understand it. I’ve been spinning since 8th grade and I stopped after my junior year in college. With the break I took my freshman year of college, I spun a total of 7 outdoor seasons and 5 indoor seasons.

Color Guard is the beauty of band, the sass, the glitz, and it adds personality to it. Yes, the band could add personality all own their own, but it wouldn’t be the same or as good. I’m not a sassy person and I really don’t like to be all glitzed up, but for Color Guard, I’ll get all dolled up in makeup, wearing whatever uniform because it’s what got me through grade school. I didn’t hate high school, because of Color Guard. I learned a lot because of Color Guard. It made me grow up, but not in a bad way.

I have to say outdoor season is my favorite because I love the band and the drumline too. I love being outside more then I do inside. There’s this unpredictability to being outside and suffering through the weather as a team really bonds people. Trust me, you don’t understand cold until you are waiting to get on the field in a homemade velvet dress that barely covers your butt as the wind just blows through you and you’re gripping onto your cold metal equipment feeling like you’re about to pee yourself. Trust me if you did guard, I know you can think of at least one time you were waiting to go perform and you felt like you needed to go to the bathroom. But, waiting in the cold, getting bruised so much it worried your teachers, and struggling through practice was always worth it.

Now this doesn’t mean I have any less love for indoor because the love I have for indoor is on an entire other spectrum. With indoor there’s an this endless amount of possibilities you can do because of the control you had. The weather didn’t change anything. Your only worry was the height of the ceiling and the strength of your toss. You could do tricks after tricks and the band never got in your way. I could swing my saber around and not worry about hitting my sister’s trumpet causing her mouth to bruise because not only was that a worry, but it’s happened. I didn’t have to worry about stripping my pole and running through the band (this means bunching up the silk of the flagpole and running in between band members). I got to let my silk open and colorful as I spin my 6ft flagpole. I get to hear the crisp clang of my rifle echo as I catch it in my hands. You can use flimsy props because the wind isn’t going to take it away. There are words to the music so I can sing through my smile. Indoor is all about color guard. The judges can’t even step on our mat because they wouldn’t survive our hit. Outdoor is like the social hour as indoor is the business, the reason why you spin outdoor is to get stronger for indoor.

I’m not as close with everyone I’ve spun with and I honestly don’t talk to my coaches anymore, but if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons I did. Most people talk about their first heartbreak and normally it’s with a person, but my first heartbreak was color guard. It was in high school, I tried out for captain and I was practically promised the position. Then at the end of the year party, I just wanted to know, and my coach finally told me that I wasn’t becoming captain. She had multiple times to tell before, but I finally asked enough that she told me at the worst possible time. I can remember this like it was yesterday. I took it well, with a nod of understanding. As she finished breaking my heart, she looked me in the eye as she told me she was surprised at how well I was taking it. She said, “I feel like I’m more upset by this then you are.” She had the audacity to tell me she felt worse than me. The reason I didn’t react in front of her was because if I did, I knew I would have regretted it. Her saying that just made the pain even worse. It was like she stabbed me then twisted the knife. I quickly left to the bathroom, walked in the first stall, and bawled my eyes out. My sister, my other coach, and the person who got captain over me showed up. They all showed up at separate times and truthfully, I got the best hug of my life that day from my future co-captain. I didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone, but people kept coming. Eventually, I had to leave the bathroom. I sat on the stool and watched people bowling and seeing so many people having fun. I had three coaches and finally my last coach sat next to me to talk. I didn’t want to, but that never mattered. He needed to explain himself. Tears started to stream down my face. He said why don’t we go for a walk. Again, I didn’t want to, but it didn’t matter.

My mom was already on her way to pick up me and my sister. I don’t even want to imagine the speed limit she was breaking to get to me. My coach and I ended up waiting outside as he talked to me. I didn’t say much. The sun felt good on my face. I know I said something to him when he asked for a response. I don’t remember exactly what. I just felt so shocked as I stood there with all of these stupid words ringing in my ear. I didn’t want his words and he certainly didn’t deserve my attention. He should have given me space. He should have left me alone. My mom finally showed up and came to my rescue as he finished spewing words at me. I was quickly ushered into the car as she called my sister to tell her it was time to go. I told my mom not to say anything to my coaches because if she did, they would been terrified. That look my mom gave my coach that day probably gave him nightmares.

Time passed and eventually I became the captain my senior year, but the pain I felt that day was true heartbreak for me. My mom was livid, I couldn’t explain all the emotions, and I was feeling, my family was upset for me. I spent days crying until I had no more tears left. My coaches felt bad and gave me the position of junior captain that year and I hated that position. It just felt like such a pity position, but I took it and I continued putting my heart into guard because despite my coach’s decisions I was going to do my best and not give up on color guard. The feeling I had when I was flipping a flag, tossing a riffle around, and even being bruised by the hilt of the saber was my happy place. I zoned out when I performed. I honestly couldn’t remember what I did when I was on the field or mat, but I could describe the feeling I got. The feeling was pure bliss. I didn’t have to worry about my coaches, the stress of school or family, my anxiety just floated away, and all my focus was on the flag, saber or rifle in my hand. Each performance and show made the stress and heartbreak worth it.

I look back now and I’m thankful for the heartbreak. I don’t hate my coaches for their decisions. They were worried I wouldn’t be a strong enough leader, but that was their poor decision. The person who earned the captain position over me deserved it too, but I felt like I deserved it more. I love her to pieces. She’s a vibrant woman with so much love and compassion for people it makes my heart warm just thinking about our high school guard family. We’ve been through a lot together. High school is a lot and middle school was even worse for me. If I didn’t have guard in 8th grade I don’t know where my life would have gone. It was a hard year for me, and junior year was rough too.

Those few seconds it took my coach to tell me her decision changed me. I learned not to make my happiness dependent on a position. I’ll get upset, but if I don’t get the job I want, I’ll survive. Eventually, there will be a better opportunity, I just haven’t found it yet. My first heartbreak gives me hope when I don’t earn what I’ve worked hard for I will find something else. Last year, I applied to the Assistant Resident Director (ARD) and didn’t get the position, but that was okay because I became a Community Assistant (CA) again. I was upset and a little down because I didn’t get the position I wanted most, but that’s okay because being a CA is still great. Eventually, I became the ARD and I’m doing the best I can and loving every second. I didn’t wait by the phone for the email, I did my best not to even think about it because even though I deserved it, I knew that I might not gain that position.

I may have not gotten the Captain role when I first tried out, but I gave it my all in that junior position and I eventually became captain. I’m currently applying for different Grad Assistantships and honestly, I want them all, but I’ll eventually get one. It may not be my first pick, but I’ll be just as happy, and I will do my best in the position I earn. It’s a hard lesson to learn, that you don’t get everything you deserve in this world, but it’s a lesson I learned. I hope one day, maybe soon, I get the job that is my top pick, but if I don’t, I know I’ll get an even better opportunity.

Color Guard is a sport, despite all of the controversy out that. It’s a contact sport too. The amount of injuries I had just from spinning a flag is insane. Then adding on the injuries and bruises from weapon line, people would think I was being abused because of all the bruises and time I sprained my wrists. Don’t worry though, I was just in color guard. What I love most about this sport is the connections you make and the lessons you learn without even knowing you learned them till years later. I love when what I do brings this magic into my world and Color Guard always brought magic. There will always be a bond between people who were in guard. Even if you’re a stranger, when we meet and find out that we both did guard, there’s this unexplainable bond. We all had tough moments with coaches, times we hated with our team, but the good times always out way the bad.

I remember performing at our home show for indoor, so many people were there to support us. I was performing with the group of people from 5-6th grade. I taught them with a few other high school members and that performance was so much fun. I was doing little sassy movements that I hated, but it was fun because of all the joy that those girls were having as they spun around dancing to a Katy Perry song. I remember doing a quick costume change under the bleachers as my three friends and I couldn’t stop smiling. I remember making the routine with my friends and coach. It was this little program that my coach fought for and we worked for. We would practice in the lobby of our middle school trying not to knock of the fish tank or hit the desk as we taught these little girls that are now graduating high school.

There are all of these little moments that I remember. The feeling I got when a judge would get close to me. I was so close to hitting them before the ducked or quickly ran away still puffing out comments into their little recorder. I remember the feeling of sitting in the cold stands, singing band songs on the top of my lungs while doing these cheesy dance moves. I remember so much as the time flew by. I wouldn’t say those were the best days of my life, but I gained wonderful memories because of color guard.

It’s a shame to hear that WGI and DCI are canceled this year. WGI is for indoor guard and DCI is Drum Core. There is a lot up in the air right now, but I hope that those who are in guard and marching band don’t lose hope. I hope they all can march in the fall and spin in the winter. I hope this pandemic bring them closer and doesn’t stop them from loving this odd sport because marching band is where love stories are made. I know so many couples who have ended up together because of marching band. Color Guard is my first love and I will always love this magical sport.