Of the many sports and clubs at West Salem High School, the Winter Guard is truly one that is on the rise. That being said, many people at West still don’t know much about this activity. Winter guard, a variation of color guard, comes from traditional military ceremonies, and is very much an American art form. Guard involves a combination of intricate dance, flag, and rifle choreography set to music. During the fall season, the guard performs alongside the marching band, however winter guard is set typically in a gymnasium. They attend competitions at which they are judged and ranked against other winter guards, according to Winter Guard International’s standards.
West Salem currently has two winter guard teams, a middle school cadet team and a high school varsity team. The two head coaches are Lisa King and Michael Davis, the latter being a former member of the West Salem winter guard. The guard program has had many successes over the years, winning their caption at two out of the past three NWAPA (Northwest Association for Performing Arts) marching band championships. More recently, both the cadet and the varsity teams took home first place in their respective divisions at the NWAPA winter guard championships this past March.
This season, the winter guard performed a beautiful show called “Nocturne,” in which they portrayed owls flying off into the night. Jade Vanderlinden, a senior and fourth year guard member says “I love it. It’s the hardest show I’ve ever done.” This is appropriate due to the guard’s growth in recent years. “There’s been a lot of building of the skills the past couple of years, and so right now they’re sort of the strongest I’ve ever seen in the years I’ve been here,” said coach Lisa King. Both coaches agree that the work ethic, leadership, and camaraderie of this year’s guard have played the biggest part in their success over the season.
The middle school cadet show this year was called “Avast: Land Ho.” It was pirate themed, and based on the 2018 competitive marching band show “Wine Dark Sea’s This Cruel Moon.” The captain of the team is Kiki DeLeon, an 8th grader at Straub who is in her second season with the program. Kiki says that the purpose of the middle school guard is to prepare the members for the rigor of high school guard. According to her, “even if it’s not as busy… it’s giving you the idea of what [high school guard] is going to be like.” She also mentioned that there are several members of the team who have had previous dance experience. Because of that, she says “we can move on very fast.”
There are currently 25 members of the varsity winter guard. One of the biggest struggles the program faces is getting people of different skill sets to all perform at the same level. Members of this year’s guard range between first years and seventh years. There are only 7 members of the cadet group, with similarly varying skill levels. This is a huge improvement from when coach Michael Davis was in the program not too long ago. “We had 9 my first winter season,” he said. Still, the staff insists that more growth is needed. They hope to someday have enough members to have a junior varsity high school team as well. This was attempted in 2018, however “we had 15 in the varsity and 7 in the JV, and for an effective show, and to score well, you need like 20-25.” (Michael Davis)
“We’re like all one big family.”
Senior Jade Vanderlinden is very sad to say goodbye to high school guard. She joined to get fit and to make friends, and she would encourage anyone who is interested to give it a chance. “You get a lot of your really close friends from guard. You also get to go to a bunch of these cool places.” Kiki Deleon shares similar opinions, saying “We’re like all one big family.”
By Abbi Butler