The Colors Waved by the Guard

Through teamwork and rhythm, color guard helps make marching band performances come to life.


Bella Gerardi

During the halftime show, senior Katie Chepalis waves her flag in the air. The game against the Parkview Patriots on Oct. 8 ended in a win for the Phoenix, 35-0.

Spectators watch from the bleachers as a group with colorful flags set out onto the field. The drummers prepare themselves, and the performance begins. Audience members watch in admiration as the flags are waved in a planned rhythm that consists of tossing, carving, sabres, and so much more. Who are the people that bring these performances to life?

Spectators can watch the color guard  at halftime during the football games and in their own performances in competitions with the marching band. Sophomore Valerie Whitaker has been a member of a color guard since she was in eighth grade when she first performed with Rock Ridge. “I think the most difficult part of color guard is the beginning,” Whitaker said. “Those 2-5 days of auditions seem so hard when you’re new and see all the vets doing warmups and practice work without trouble, it’s almost intimidating,” Whitaker said.

The hard work didn’t stop Whitaker’s determination to become a valuable part of the team. “The welcoming feeling of being in a safe and fun environment is what made me wanna push through those hard moments,” Whitaker said.

This season was freshman Lawoe Melomey’s first year participating color guard. “My mom was like ‘you’re not really doing anything’ and my sister was already in the marching band, so she was like ‘there are barely any color guard members, so why don’t you join?’ so I was like ‘sure,  I’ll join,'” Melomey said. Like Whitaker, she also felt the steep learning curve for the skills at the start of the season. “Trying to learn it was really hard and difficult at first, but eventually it got easier,” she said. 

Sophomore Valerie Whitaker waves her flag as the marching band plays music aside with her. Whitaker’s performance had the spectators from the stands cheering for more. (Bella Gerardi)

Throughout the numerous competitions, senior Katie Chepalis has been pushing through since the rough start of the school year. “It was so hard [going back to school after a year of COVID],” Chepalis said. “It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I feel like once school started and we kind of got into the groove of it, it definitely got a lot easier.”  

The color guard has participated in 6 competitions, the largest of which was a night competition at Herndon High School, the winners being Rock Ridge. After Rock Ridge had won the final competition of the season on Oct. 30, the Herndon competition was “the climax of the season,” according to Chepalis. Chepalis and the color guard members hope to captivate audiences with a similar, if not better, performance next season.