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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Winter Guard splits into two teams for the first time since 2019

Madhura Natarajan
Senior Esabella Fung tosses a flag to senior Angelique Delacroix during CCGC Evaluations on January 20, 2024 at James Logan High School.

Members of the varsity winter guard team, breathless, smiled at the audience at James Logan High School as the music faded out during a competition on Jan. 20. As soon as the clapping started, the JV members rushed onto the gym floor to help their varsity counterparts pick up the flags, rifles and sabres.

In contrast to previous years, winter guard has split into two teams this year, with 17 members on JV and 11 members on varsity as opposed to last year’s 24-member single team. 

The JV team consists of 14 freshmen, two sophomores, and one junior, while the varsity team has two sophomores, three juniors, and six seniors. The guard has not had two teams since 2019.

This year’s staff includes director Russell Crow, JV director Alphonso Pitco, staff members Abigail Clark, Everett Henrie, Olina Ing, Annika Le, Ian Stick and Class of `23 alumna Mika Tippetts.

The varsity leadership team consists of varsity captains seniors Sophia Deng and Esabella Fung, assistant captains senior Lake Proffitt and junior Andrea Zhu and JV coordinator junior Bryce Lee. JV’s head captains are sophomores Kayla Bingel and Aditi Kankanwadi, and the assistant captains are junior Samy Tundlam and freshman Saachi Saraf and Shivanshi Saund. 

The JV team will be competing in the Scholastic Regional A Division with “Macabre,” a show about the dead coming alive, featuring music from the musical “Beetlejuice” and the TV show “Wednesday.” The team has reduced their rehearsal time from the typical 3-hour rehearsal to a 2-hour rehearsal every Tuesday and Thursday to accommodate for varsity’s rehearsal time. Despite their short rehearsal time and smaller team, JV members have seen noticeable improvements in their skills.

“The [JV] guard is technically small, but it doesn’t exactly feel that way because the energy is still really high during rehearsal,” Kankanwadi said. “[The freshmen] are taking a while to adjust, but it’s really clear that they want to learn and they’re passionate about guard, so it’s not an issue.”

Because of the cut in rehearsal time and different choreography, Bingel has noticed changes in the show from past seasons. 

“JV has fewer hours and it also involves a lot of improv,” Bingel said. “It’s very much up to us what we decide to do. I think I’ve dealt with less burnout [because of the fewer hours]. I’m able to focus more on technique.” 

The varsity team’s show, “Jazz in the Plazz,” uses the song “Another Day of Sun” from the movie “La La Land,” and will be competing in the Scholastic National A Division, a division higher than last year. Based on the idea of pedestrians enjoying jazz music in a park, “Jazz in the Plazz” uniquely features sophomore Luke Tjahjadi, who will be playing the saxophone at the start of the show.

Live music generally does not appear in winter guard shows, but the group will have this component. This will be similar to last year’s show, in which they had a cello and violin play for the entire show. Props will include three picnic blankets and a park bench borrowed from the drama department.

Unlike the past two shows, the varsity team’s music is much more upbeat, making members feel more energized. However, the lack of members has created a different atmosphere.

“Because there are no freshmen and barely any underclassmen, there’s a lot more pressure [to perform well] because you can’t hide behind anyone,” Zhu said. “The instructor-student ratio is a lot lower as well, so they can see any mistakes you make.” 

Because the varsity team has no freshmen, the start of the season has moved much faster than previous years because there are no new members to teach. Instead, there is more of an emphasis on improvement and tricks.

“As a smaller team, we get more individual attention to improve technique and learn new tricks throughout the season,” Deng said.

Both teams performed their show for the first time on Jan. 20 for CCGC Evaluations, and their first competition was on Feb. 10. The guard will continue to compete throughout March and April, with CCGC Championships on April 6 at Independence High School for a total of six competitions.

“Even though we’re two teams, and there are new additions, we’re all close and always support and cheer for each other like one family,” Deng said.

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