In recognition of Winter Guard International World Championships being held in San Diego this week, we'll be focusing some editorial firepower on anecdotes and stories related to guards. Think back to those formative, funny, inspiring or memorable guard stories and send them in! They can be as long or as short as you would like. Attach a picture of yourself or the situation you're writing about if you can. And by all means, pass this on to your guard friends! We'll edit these stories for clarity, grammar and appropriateness. If you have a guard-related anecdote or story, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. By Jeremy Claud During high school, my dream had always been to march in a Division I corps. The only problem was that I played a woodwind instrument, and as all corps fanatics know, the chances of a woodwind being included into the drum corps genre is slim to none. I tried to involve myself in all aspects of band, like indoor percussion, drum majoring, and then finally my senior year, winter guard. It was after spinning in winter guard that I decided that guard could be something to pursue in the track of marching corps.
My guard instructor used to march corps, and highly suggested that I try out for Carolina Crown's 2003 guard in April. He had heard that Rosie Miller, the caption head, still had open spots for the season. Having only spun for about six months, I didn't know what to expect, and honestly, I kept telling myself that I would have a pretty good chance at making it. Boy was I wrong! The camp was probably the most traumatizing experience for me. I didn't realize that I would make such a fool of myself in front of people that were so well-known for this art form. I knew by the end of the camp that I would be the first one cut. However, while a plethora of names was called out by Rosie for spot offerings, my name was miraculously called. I was thinking either I was going to be told how bad I was before they sent me home, or maybe I would get offered a position as tour bus driver, because I definitely was not expecting much. Well, I sat down at the table and Rosie asked me how I felt I was doing the past few days. Of course there wasn't much to lie about, and I vented about how frustrating it is to learn all these new concepts and techniques, when I didn't even have much knowledge to begin with. Rosie then told me that she understood that I had such a low level experience compared to everyone else, but that she had a strange feeling that I should be a part of the group, and that by the end of it she predicted she would be able to make me into a great spinner. Unbelievablely, I was offered a spot to march with Crown guard -- as an alternate. As an alternate, the first few weeks of camp and tour were probably the most stressful and emotional times for me. Here I was on the sideline watching everyone set their drill, while I was expected to just kill time by doing basics or running over phrases like a broken record. By this time, my confidence in my guard skills were still at an all-time low and I felt like the whole time I was disappointing the staff and the other guard members by not living up to Rosie's expectations. Little did I know that I would be hit again by a major opportunity. A lot of times in corps, members have to leave or can't make it through probably the worst part of tour: Spring training. Just four days before our first competition, a guard member had to leave due to uncontrollable circumstances, and that was the day I was offered a full spot. I was excited to finally march a full show my first year, but I was definitely not excited about catching up on about 100 pages of drill that everyone else had learned weeks ago. After days of intense training, I had my first competition, and I was such a nervous wreck at lineup! To make things worse, I found my high school guard instructor sitting in the stands. I never told him that I finally got a full spot. As I finished setting my equipment, I kept thinking, "This is the chance to prove to everyone that I can do this, just stay calm and focus." We lined up on the 50-yard line for the opening set. The bells rang and the show started. It all happened so fast, and every minute of it was exhilarating! The rush of the performance helped me concentrate better, and it was definitely a great first run for me. I had many drill spots in front of my high school guard instructor, and I could just see him in shock at all that I had learned in the past few weeks. That first performance definitely made guard a lot easier for me through the end of the season at finals night. I can't thank Rosie Miller, the guard staff, and the members at Crown enough for giving me the skills that I know today. I could never have dreamed of marching a Division I drum corps after only spinning for six months before the actual tour, much less be a part of a guard and corps that made a big name for itself in 2003. Now, I'm a guard addict, jumping at every opportunity to march, watch or help teach somewhere whenever possible. It's interesting how one hobby, during one hot sticky summer, can affect a person's life so much afterwards. "You haven't failed until you quit trying." -Anonymous