Back in action, Marble Falls color guard finding its rhythm

EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON

Marble Falls High School color guard members Jenyfer Botello (front, left), Lauren France (right), and Kiara Woods (back) rehearse part of the team’s competitive routine, ‘Starry, Starry Moonlight.’ Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Marble Falls High School color guard members Jenyfer Botello (front, left), Lauren France (right), and Kiara Woods (back) rehearse part of the team’s competitive routine, ‘Starry, Starry Moonlight.’ Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

When Marble Falls High School senior Ashton Reyes was a freshman, she jumped at the chance to join the color guard and quickly fell in love with it.

“There’s this rush you get when you’re out there performing. It’s hard to explain,” she said.

The color guard performs intricate maneuvers with flags and other props along with the marching band during halftime shows and marching competitions.

In the winter, after marching contests, the color guard competes on its own against similar teams during Winter Guard.

Everything about color guard fit Reyes.

She found herself on a supportive team, one where everyone lifted each other up.

But after her freshman year, the school dropped color guard. Last year, she and fellow color guard enthusiast Alyssa Stutzman learned that one of the English teachers, Shannon Meyer, had coached color guard for a number of years in Uvalde before moving to Marble Falls.

“We tried to talk her into starting the color guard here,” Reyes said.

Marble Falls High School Principal Damon Adams, also learning of Meyer’s background, approached her about the possibility of restarting and leading the high school color guard program. Meyer, who thought she might have left color guard behind her, realized that wasn’t the case.

But not just because the principal and students hoped she would lead the program.

“It’s addictive,” Meyer said.

She should know. She participated in color guard in high school then began coaching and leading color guard in 1993. With the exception of her first year at Marble Falls High School, she’s been doing it ever since.

“Color guard isn’t something you, at least, I can’t just walk away from, I guess,” she said.

It probably didn’t take that much effort on Adams’ or the students’ part to get Meyer involved. Last school year, Meyer held a one-day clinic for students interested in color guard followed by auditions in April. Students such as Reyes and Stutzman helped spur interest in the color guard.

Last August, the Marble Falls High School color guard — with about 17 members — went out in the summer heat to practice alongside the marching band. The color guard works with the band on the halftime and competition programs.

“We kind of bring the music to life on the field,” Meyer said about the color guard’s role.

The members use a number of props, including flags and wooden or plastic rifles, in a choreographed routine.

They perform throughout the football season and into marching competition. Once the marching season is over, however, they don’t stow their flags and props.

“When it’s over, we compete in Winter Guard,” Reyes said. “That’s where we compete against other color guards.”

Marble Falls High School color guard member Brendeli Martinez works on the team’s ‘Starry, Starry Moonlight’ routine, which they’ll perform during the Texas Color Guard Circuit Area West Championships on Saturday, March 23, at Pflugerville Hendrickson High School. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Marble Falls High School color guard member Brendeli Martinez works on the team’s ‘Starry, Starry Moonlight’ routine, which they’ll perform during the Texas Color Guard Circuit Area West Championships on Saturday, March 23, at Pflugerville Hendrickson High School. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Winter Guard allows teams to showcase their abilities and creativity. Meyer worked with a choreographer to develop the school’s routine — “Starry, Starry Moonlight” — then she tweaked and refined it. The Marble Falls troupe competes in the novice class of the Texas Color Guard Circuit.

“It’s very dance-focused — jazz, ballet, modern,” Meyer said. “All while they’re under a prop, whether it’s a flag or rifle or something else.”

The Marble Falls color guard has racked up a first place (Feb. 23 at Cedar Park High School), a second place (March 9 at Lehman High School), and a couple of third places (Feb. 9 at Georgetown High School and Jan. 26 at Westwood High School).

The squad also earned a spot in the Texas Color Guard Area West Championships on March 23 at Pflugerville Hendrickson High School. Marble Falls performs at 3:54 p.m.

While the fall season is on the field outside, Winter Guard takes the color guard inside.

“It’s a totally different world when you move inside,” Meyer said.

The teams have less space in which to work — a football field vs. a gym floor — but they get to push themselves by tackling routines that highlight dance elements.

The team members know all eyes are on them during competitions, but Reyes and Stutzman agreed that’s fine with them. They and the rest of the squad put in about eight hours a week in practice. Yes, sometimes people drop a flag or other prop — especially when learning the routine or just starting out in color guard — but they always pick it up and go on.

“Color guard is so supportive of each other,” Reyes said.

“We’re always encouraging each other,” Stutzman added.

If someone makes a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. They move on. Sure, they continue to work on the routine, or just the snippet that is giving them the biggest challenge at the time, but they don’t give up.

Reyes said color guard teaches more than flag tossing and dance: It’s about perseverance, hard work, and teamwork.

“Those are skills we’ll use beyond color guard,” she added.

Meyer agreed.

“It’s a lot of work being in color guard, and hours,” she said. “There’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t see. And that work shows on the field and in completion. But it’s also something (color guard members) learn that will help them in anything they do: Hard work and dedication makes a difference.”

daniel@thepicayune.com

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