OSKALOOSA — Color guard is both an art form and a sport, according to performers and instructors.
Oskaloosa High School sophomore Rachel Frost recently competed in the Iowa State and Drill Team Association’s Solo Championships.
It’s a big competition, Frost said, with a small school division and a large school division.
“We’re part of the large school division,” she said. “So I competed with over 40 other people and I ended up placing 18th. And it’s really cool to watch how other people interpret color guard and what they do with their work.”
Frost also received a Division I superior rating and a medal. The previous year, she ranked 27th with a Division I superior rating.
Solo performances are a bit different from group performances, Frost said. She choreographed her routine herself, picked out and cut the music and picked out her costume.
“So it’s really more individualized and personalized to how I wanted to have it,” she said. “And with the group, it’s a big collaboration and making sure everything goes together nad works nicely.”
The 2019-2020 school year is director Anna Schaefer’s first year with the color guard program.
“I’m just excited to be here. It’s a growing program. The [students] are excited. They say that this has been a really great year,” she said. “With a new band director and a new color guard director, we were kind of nervous; it’s a transition year. But it seems like most of the [students] have had really, really great things to say about it so far.”
The drill team is heading into the winter guard season now, Schaefer said.
“The solo competition is kind of in connection with the team winter guard competition,” she said. “The winter guard competition is going to be on Friday, Dec. 6.”
Schaefer said the drill team uses an audio track to choreograph to for winter guard
“I have a little bit more marching band in my blood, so I do use drill sheets and count sheets. We use audio track, we do a lot of counting. I like to pick the brains of my girls. I want them to have their fingerprints on the show as well,” she said. “I don’t like to just come in and be like ‘ok, this is what we are doing.’”
Schaefer said she looks to some go-tos, including Frost, and asks for ideas and suggestions.
“So I honestly rely a lot on our girls to kind of put their touches on it as well,” she said. “So we do a lot of collaboration work like that.”
Frost said her favorite part is getting to know fellow color guard members and hanging out with them.
“They’re all really good people. That’s something about marching band is the people who do it are really good people,” she said. “So getting to know them and building the relationships. And then doing the work, too, and accomplishing something. Every time we’ve done color guard we’ve won something and it brings everyone closer together. So after you’ve already built that nice foundation, you’re bringing it even better with having people to celebrate it with.”
Color guard is a creative experience, Schaefer said, but a lot of work.
“Those who don’t think color guard is a sport, I challenge them to come to a rehearsal. Our girls are sweating and red faced and taking water breaks,” she said. “So it is a lot of work but I have been really, really blessed in that we have a group of guard members who are really pretty dedicated. They want to be there. They do put in a lot of work and a lot of hours learning the work.”
Josh Barnes is currently the lone male on the color guard, Schaefer said.
“We have one gentleman with us and we absolutely love it,” she said. “He is very skilled too.”
Schaefer said the color guard welcomes new performers.
“We do want to grow our program. I have a lot of aspirations for our color guard program. I’m an alumni from here, so I was part of the color guard in like 2003-2006,” she said. “I’m really really privileged to be able now to direct it. I’m loving it. We’re always welcoming new people.”
Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.