Spinning and Winning

Kaitlyn Witts, Reporter

As the school year comes to a close for students at Nixa High School, so does the Winterguard season. 

   John Sullivan is the director of the two-color guard teams at NHS and other teams statewide.

   “I have been teaching color guard for 39 years,” Sullivan said. “After teaching the color guard at Willard High School for 20 years, I am completing my fifth year as color guard director at Nixa.”

   Karly Anderson, a freshman at NHS, has been a part of guard since seventh grade.

   “Our practices are two hours long, and we rehearse every Tuesday and Thursday,” said Anderson. “I think just being able to be around my friends and doing something I love makes me want to go to practice.”

   Emilia Farmer, a senior who has been in guard for five years, explains what keeps her going.

   “The things that make me want to go to practice are my friends. I got lucky, and pretty much all my friends are in guard, so it’s just more time I get to spend with them,” Farmer said. “The coaches also try their best to make practices as fun as they can so that when we are there for long periods, we enjoy it.”

   Sullivan shares how he got into the business.

   “I started spinning color guard at age 14 when I first saw the Madison Scout Drum and Bugle Corps perform at my high school,” Sullivan said. “I built a career as a color guard instructor and designer, which led me to the opportunity of becoming a color guard director.”

   This season the team split into two groups, nVISION and nSIGHT. 

   “It has been neat to see their support of one another as well as the camaraderie and bond within each guard,” Sullivan said. “Both guards have worked hard on their shows, which has shown in their performances this season.”

   The NHS color guard has been keeping up with COVID guidelines.

   “We continued the protocol established for the marching band last fall where each rehearsal and performance starts with temperature checks. Students arrive, rehearse, and depart fully masked, and we have assigned seating to help us with contact tracing,” Sullivan said. “A flag pole is 6′ in length, so maintaining the required 6′ distance was easy because of the room needed to spin a flag. We also required that when we pull together for instruction notes that students remain masked and socially distant.”

   Because they stayed COVID safe, there was still an audience to perform for, even if it was smaller than usual. 

   “Our competitive season this year was all virtual. We did, however, participate in four winter guard showcases with local conference schools that we play in sports,” Sullivan said. “Although these performances were not open to the public, each student was allowed to invite two people as spectators for the event. everyone – students, staff, spectators – remained fully masked and followed social distancing guidelines.”

   March 27 was the second Ozark Showcase performance. 

   “We are in the final stages of our season, with our next event being the mid-continent color guard championships, which is also a virtual event,” Sullivan said. “MCCGA championships will be on April 10. We will host a parent preview at the high school on Thursday, April 8.”

   Most performers go back and watch the show to see what they can improve on.

   “At our last showcase, I think we did pretty good. Rewatching it I thought we looked in sync with only a couple of mess-ups,” Anderson said. “I found out I should look more confident when I spin after I looked at some pictures and should lift my hand more for one of my rifle tosses.”

   Farmer gives some advice to those who are considering joining the color guard or are continuing.

   “Listen to the upperclassmen; they know what they are doing. Don’t be scared to ask questions; if anything, ask too many questions,” Farmer said. “Rely on your teammates; they are there for a reason. And finally, take in everything, it’ll be over before you know it.”