BY SABRINA WONG
Loud alarms sounded in many bedrooms at around 2:30 a.m. on April 2, signifying the start of the CCHS varsity color guard’s trip to the World Championships competition in Dayton, Ohio. After participating in six local competitions and one regional competition during the season, the 16 team members performed their show once more in a much larger setting and on a much higher level.
The CCHS color guard is a part of two different circuits— South Florida Winter Guard Association (SFWGA) and Winter Guard International (WGI). SFWGA includes only the schools and competitions located in South Florida. WGI, however, includes schools all around the world, regional competitions and the final world competition.
Although the CCHS guard is in the National A division with SFWGA, they are classified as a Scholastic A group with WGI.
After arriving at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at 3:30 a.m., the team took off from the Southwest Airlines terminal at 6 a.m. Since the flight was a layover, the color guard landed at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport where they transferred onto another plane. The members finally reached the John Glenn Columbus International Airport at 10:30 a.m.
In the past, the guard would normally ride in a charter bus for over 17 hours all the way from Florida to Ohio. Taking a plane this year allowed the group to reach their destination much quicker, and even caused them to miss one less day of school.
To continue preparing for their preliminary performance, the team members traveled to a rehearsal spot right after checking into their hotel. Rehearsal took place at the Grace Community Church of Huber Heights from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“Performing inside the huge arena was exhilarating.”
On April 3, the CCHS color guard watched other Scholastic A class guard shows at the University of Dayton (UD) Arena before eating lunch and going to rehearsal once again. The team practiced for two hours at the same church before traveling back to the UD Arena, where they performed at 4:52 p.m.
The guard’s show this year was entitled “Wicked Heart,” signifying very dark, underlying love. The floor was all black with a red heart located in the top left corner, spiraling out with red fire-like strokes. Uniforms were maroon and black.
There were three different stadiums being used for the World Championships competition. These included the Nutter Center, the Cintas Center and the UD Arena.
In total, there were 138 guards in the National A category who performed in the preliminary round. Sixty-four of those teams made semi-finals, and 20 made finals.
The CCHS guard scored an 87.60 on their preliminary performance, which was about a three-point increase compared to their SFWGA championships score of an 84.78. After all the teams finished performing, the coaches informed the group that they made semi-finals and would be performing again the next day. The Cooper varsity guard was currently in 44th place.
“It was extremely emotional for me especially since it was my last time ever performing with the CCHS color guard.”
“Seeing all of our hard work and growth this season at World Championships was a really wonderful experience,” freshman Izabel Heston said. “Performing inside the huge arena was exhilarating, and I wouldn’t have asked for a better group of people to do it with my very first time.”
On April 4, the team members were in full show hair and makeup by 9:15 a.m. They rehearsed for one hour at the church again before performing at 12:48 p.m. at the Nutter Center.
For the remainder of the day, the CCHS color guard watched other Scholastic A class guard shows at the Nutter Center and Independent World class guard shows at the UD Arena.
Once scores were released, the group was shocked to hear that they ended their semi-finals run with a score of 90.54. This was the first time the guard broke a score of over 90 in a long time.
“Before our semi-finals run was even over, I was already in tears,” co-captain Alexandra Porras said. “I knew it before we walked off that floor that we had an amazing run, and it was extremely emotional for me especially since it was my last time ever performing with the CCHS color guard. Closing the season with that performance felt like an honor, and I couldn’t have asked for more from my guard because I knew they gave everything they had.”
“We made memories that will last for a lifetime.”
Even though they didn’t make finals, the guard placed 22nd and reached a goal they didn’t think was possible at the beginning of the season. Their opening score at premiere— the first competition held in January— was a 57.46.
On April 5, the group started their day off by watching Scholastic World class guard shows at the UD Arena. Afterward, they watched Scholastic and Independent Open class guard shows at the Nutter Center. Finally, they traveled back to the UD Arena that evening to watch Scholastic A class finals.
The team’s last day in Ohio was reserved for the members to have a relaxed and enjoyable time at Scene75. Scene75 is an entertainment center with over 10 attractions and 120 arcade games. The color guard spent about five hours at the site to finish off their trip.
After flying out of Columbus, Ohio at 10:15 p.m., the group returned to Florida at 12:20 a.m. on April 7.
“We went to Ohio with a dream and determination,” co-captain Paulina Manta said. “We didn’t win first place, and we didn’t make finals, but we made history for the program. We made memories that will last for a lifetime.”
Disclaimer: Sabrina Wong is a member of the CCHS varsity color guard.
Photo by Sasheen Joseph