COLORGUARD IS

By Unknown

     Colorguard is science. It is exact, specific and it demands precise execution. A designer's drill is a chart; a graph which indicates x and y coordinates for constantly changing geometric shapes and forms in both time and space. Our equipment and props are always pushing the laws of physics with force and speed, action and reaction. All of this is with an incredible control of time.

Colorguard is math. It is rhythmically and metrically based on the subdivision of time into fractions which must be done instantaneously. We have angles and degrees, both acute and obtuse, sequences, ranges, and planes.

     Colorguard is a language. It is a visual picture alive with message, meaning, and expression. We use interpretive phases, sentences, and words many times with music which creates a most complete and universal language, to be recorded for others to see, feel, and understand. It is a language which is recited and shared many times both near and far.

     Colorguard is history. Colorguard can be influenced by the environment and times of its creation, or it can reflect the past as well as the future. It can send us to a faraway country or bring us closer to home. Sometimes colorguard means going back to bring your audience forward.

     Colorguard is physical. It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, feet and legs; in addition to extraordinary control of the back stomach and torso; all of which are called to respond instantly to the sound the ear hears and the sight the eye sees. Colorguard centers around endurance, ability, strength, and balance.

     Colorguard is a sport. A game which we play with others in which we share and we shine. We compete against other teams to place well. More importantly, we compete against ourselves to beat anything less than our bests. It allows us to learn more on our inside on confidence and fear, self-esteem and self-image; as we get better on the outside with performances, people, expressing our feelings, and sharing our dreams. It is a chance to realize our attitude is what makes us or breaks us, not anyone or anything else. It is a kind of mind set with an increased awareness that challenges us to realize the potential inside ourselves.

     Colorguard is a performing art. It is a show which can be entertaining and enlightening! With directing, acting, producing, managing, and touring. Colors, fashion, flair, excitement, pizazz, sophistication, and subtlety. Always realizing the triad of performance; audience, performer, design. It allows a human being to learn how to take all of these things; some dry and technically boring, some difficult and challenging; and use them to create EMOTION - the central element to any performance.

     Colorguard is spending hours in and out of class and practices spinning a 6 foot flag or a 36" rifle. It is giving your performance your all, even if you're dirty, injured, and in a bad mood! Colorguard is all about striving for perfection...even while you're in tears because you've just had a heart-breaking defeat. Colorguard is giving up any chance of having a life for months - just so you can perform a few times for 3 1/2 minutes in front of 5 judges and a huge audience - and it's worth it!

     Colorguard is attitude. It is keeping a smile on your face even when you would rather be yelling. It is knowing that you can do well, even if it seems like the world is ending. Knowing that a good attitude makes the difference is the secret of a good guard.

     Colorguard is determination. If you give up after the first time you hit yourself with a flag, you're not a true guardie. Rifle bruises, knots on your head, broken nails, and broken bones are nothing. Even low scores, dropped tosses, and unfair defeats aren't enough to stop the determination to succeed in guard.

     Colorguard is ambition. Aiming for what is just out of reach keeps the guard going. We believe in ourselves, without knowing what challenges are ahead. It is knowing that when you think you've reached the top, you've only hit the tip of the iceberg. It is the desire for more, not stopping with "satisfactory."

     Colorguard is faith. So many times we will perform without knowing what awaits us. We rely on ourselves and on our teammates to put on the best show possible. We must trust that we have practiced enough, prayed enough, and believed enough to get through our performance. It is believing without seeing... trusting our instincts even when we're not sure of the result.

     Colorguard is sincerity. Making your audience understand how much you really want to be there, out on the floor, performing. It is smiling your heart out, even if you don't feel like it, because you want to look genuinely happy. It is knowing that nothing is more fulfilling than showing your true self to other people.

     Colorguard is vulnerability. Putting yourself at the mercy of flying equipment and ruthless judges would be considered crazy anywhere else. It is allowing strangers into your heart, bringing lots of good, but lots of criticism as well. It is putting yourself on the line, with only your team to back you up. Out on a 65' x 80' floor, there is no where to hide. It is opening your soul, knowing that you sometime or another, you will get hurt, but realizing that that is the only way to truly perform.

     Colorguard is expression, expressing the emotion of your music with flags and weapon work. It is smiling and projecting, as well as enthusiasm and vigor. Simply performing the work is not enough - colorguard is about showing your audience how they should feel.

     Colorguard is flexibility. Knowing that changing flag work the day before (or the day of!) competition is okay. Realizing that everything will never go according to schedule, and just going with the flow. It is adapting to your surroundings, making new friends of strangers, getting used to someone else's equipment, trying new dance moves (even when they look stupid). It is treating life for what it is - a constantly changing place - and seeing that you have to keep up!

     Colorguard is hard work. It is sweating more than you ever thought possible, under the heat of an unairconditioned gym or a humid football field. It is subjecting yourself to blows from metal objects and flying hunks of wood. It is gaining muscle strength from doing 50, 100, 500 spins at time. It is bleeding and bruising and crying and cursing, all for the sake of making yourself perform beautifully.

     Colorguard is memories. Good memories of winning performances and beautiful flag work, and bad memories of dropped tosses and horrible outfits. It is remembering bus rides and cram-packed bathrooms, fast food restaurants and many, many school hallways. It is wanting to remember everything and knowing that you physically can't. It is laughing about past shows and old directors. It is years’ worth of moments that mean so much.

     Colorguard is an extreme high. Stepping out onto the field and staring at hundreds of faces is a rush that you can't buy in a pill. And then walking into a gym full of people knowing you are going to give them the show of their lives is a feeling second to none. You can't know colorguard until you've done colorguard, but then you'll know exactly what God meant by "natural highs."

     Colorguard is friendship. It is bonding with people that you never would have looked twice at. It is overcoming your differences to put on the best show possible. It is getting close to fifteen other girls from all walks of life, and preferring them to anyone else. It is telling someone how it is, and they can take it with a smile. It knowing that a friendship that will only last for one season is still worth having.

     Colorguard is who? It is talented young people who will give up years of their lives, miss school dances and club meetings, all to put themselves at the mercy of flying equipment. It is emotional teenage girls who sacrifice boyfriends and dating for broken nails and sweat. It is guys who will take a "pretty boy" reputation just so they can spin. It is crazy, insane directors who give up their lives as well, just to see their guard do well. They will take on part-time jobs to supplement their tiny salary ... and they won't complain when they're at guard practice after 10 hours at work.

     Colorguard is also adoring parents, who long ago figured out that the easiest way is just to open the check book and ask "How much?" It is dedicated floor crews who give up weekends just to drag around a floor and equipment (band nerds!) It is critical judges, who hold the hopes and dreams of hundreds of people in their hands. It is cadet guards of little kids and senior guards of age-outs and everything in between. To those who spin, it is life.

     Colorguard is what? It is spinning flags, rifles, and sabers on a football field... but it is much more than that. It is unity between young people from all walks of life. It is a sisterhood (possibly with a few honorary male members) of girls that never would have looked twice at each other. It is hours of practice, rehearsals, and run-throughs. It is competitions and performances, always at the mercy of your audience. It is confidence, in yourself and in your team. It is giving up your life for one thing. It is never having money, because there is always something to buy (an outfit, flags, gloves, etc.) It is picking a college based on the nearest independent guard. It is the feeling of having conquered the world after a surprise victory and that feeling that the world is ending after an unfair defeat. It is makeup on buses and changing in bathrooms. It is finding out what you are truly capable of. It is trying things you never thought you would, and learning that it won't kill you. It is life.

     Colorguard is when? It is from early August band camp to playoff games in November. It is hours of afterschool practices and Saturday rehearsals in between. It is a well-deserved break before winterguard practices... and it is screaming during class because your muscles hurt so bad. It is more practices from January to April. It is during holidays and school events. It is during early morning prayers and late night thanks. It is right before you walk out on the floor at competition and in the moments of anticipation before they announce your score. It is from high school years in guard, to college independent guard, to aging out and still wanting to do it. It is before the sun rises and your off to contest and late after the sun has set and you're driving home. It is in your mind all the time. It is throughout life.

     Colorguard is where? It is on muddy football fields and humid parking lots. It is unairconditioned gyms and cafeterias. It is in too small band halls and guard rooms and instructors' offices. It is on windy buses and in cramped vans. It is squished in bleachers and stadium bathrooms. It is in too many school hallways to count. It is in worn patches of grass in front yards and on unforgiving cement driveways. It is in dings and dents and scratches that show how much our equipment is loved. It is underneath bruises and bumps and broken nails. It is in hugs and tears and smiles. It is the director's yelling, laced with love. It is our moans and groans at practice, even though we know we're happy to be there. It is behind layers and layers of makeup, curls, and spandex. It is in hearts and minds and souls. It is in life.

     Colorguard is why? It is because of dedication. Because of a team of 15 or 20 that will save up the money, give up their weeknights, and put off the rest of their lives so that they can spin. It is because of loving parents who want their children to be happy, so they fork over hundreds of dollars to support their sport. It is because of directors that are devoted to their guards, even though they could have a life of their own. It is because of the team, because we want to do well for each other. It is because we're afraid of losing, but more afraid of not competing. It's because of an incredible desire to perform, to show the audience what we can do. It is a selfish want to show off, and an unselfish need to fulfill our lives. It is because of the time and talent of so many people. It is because without guard, we have nothing. It is because we do what we love and we love to spin. It is because colorguard is life.

     Colorguard is an indescribable noun, verb, and adjective. It is girls and guys and guns and laughter and tears and smiles and hugs and yelling and jokes and photos and music and singing (if you can call it that) and bus rides and fast food and bathrooms and gyms. It is believing in yourself, your team, and your instructor. It is working harder than you've ever worked before. It's also wanting to do well more than you've ever wanted anything in your life. It is love for yourself and your guard, and it is understanding for you and your team's mistakes. It is prayer for safe performances, forgiveness for bad shows, and thanks for awesome competitions. It is the best kept secret EVER. It is putting yourself through hot band camps, cold half-time shows, harsh criticism, tough love, evil bus drivers, clueless judges. It is a unity that cannot be explained - that togetherness that only comes through hours upon hours of time spent together, sharing help, gossip, food, etc. It is knowing that your instructor only yells at you because they care enough to make you better. It is trying your hardest because you know nothing else is worth doing. It is the rush you feel when you step on the floor to perform and the high you get when you hear the audience cheer. It is the good, the bad, and the ugly, especially when it comes to uniforms. It is sport and art unlike any other... nowhere else will you see such emotion mixed with such agility, so much grace surrounded by so much athleticism.

     Colorguard is only understood by those who truly do it and know it and live it, and to them, it is LIFE.

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