The Road Ahead; The colorguard begins their winter season

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After their premier performance the guard poses in their new uniforms for a post-show photo. After weeks of waiting, the garments arrived in time for their show. “I really like our uniforms this year.” said Viveros. Members listed from left to right: Dayana Viveros-Deangelo, Dallis Mullett, Rylee Kuhns, Rylee Tusing, Drew Schoonover, McKenzie, Michael Heatherington.

Dallis Mullett, Editor

In their second full season as an established group, the Manatee Color Guard has already begun their competitive winter circuit. The five and a half month process requires hours of practice and preparation that is incredibly demanding to that of its members, but the group has proved they are willing to take on any challenge.

The notable repertoire of the guard has only grown within the past year. Scoring superiors in each of their marching shows, the guard took home their second superior rating at their 2021 MPA performance as a part of the marching band’s auxiliary group, along with the Sugar’canes. They scored fourth place in their division at the 20201 FFCC Championships in Daytona last season and have their eyes on a placing spot this coming year. They took home the third place spot at their first show of the season, second at the second show and then first at their most recent performance.

Though there are still many obstacles, they must overcome.

“I can’t wait to get back to competitions,” says senior Dayana Viveros, “It’s the best part of the season, especially when you nail a routine.”

Joined this season by several new members, a new coach and losing old members, the guard has faced their fair share of challenges through the marching season but has come back from their brief break determined to work.

“I missed marching season last year because of injury,” says sophomore Rylie Kuhns. “It’s cool to be able to come back and do competition in the winter, it’s like my favorite part of guard.”

Up, up and Away!: Senior Dayana Viveros throws a flag while sophomore member Rylee Tusing watches. The guard has learned a number of complex tosses over the past year, growing from their previous selves. “Tosses are easily the scariest part of it,” says Heatherington. “but it feels good to get one down.”

The winter season comprises five major competitions held through several high schools in Florida, the final round being held at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. The group is given a score based upon their performance at each event and then gives a final show at the end of the season, then placed among the other members of their division based upon their score.

Scores can be affected by a multitude of details such as costuming choice and relevancy, posture, hand placement, musicality and timing. Each small performance component can make a significant difference between the first and second.

“You have to keep thinking about all the things you need to remember for the performance,” says Viveros. “But, once you’ve practiced enough, you can just flow with the music.”

Practices are incredibly demanding, taking up to nearly nine hours every week and even more during the football season. They begin with a dance warm up that is then followed by a stretching routine and flag basics. These exercises are used to teach and refine the fundamental skills that build up the difficulty.

Mondays are intense practice sessions starting that can go late into the evening. These nights, the guard works on placement on the show floor, learning choreography and clipping the show together. Tuesday and Thursday evenings are focused on skills practice and technique that improves shows overall look; putting bits to music, working on body placement, facial expressions and so on.

“It honestly can be really scary,” says new member, Michael Hetherington, “but you just have to make sure you’re asking questions and trying to work through things on your own first.”

Joined by new Coach Jennifer Reynolds, the guard is being pushed to their limits this season in terms of new skills. The current routine has consistently challenged its members and there has been significant growth over the past few weeks.

Even through their troubles, the guard has remained a strong performance group that has the resilience and drive to bring something new and inventive to the floor every time.