More boys join Winter Guard December 7, 2016 — by Ashley Su and Katherine Zhou Junior Austin Shi is one of the leaders of Winter Guard. Winter Guard male membership increasing Over the years, the Winter Guard team has largely been made up of females, but this year that trend is beginning to change. With the gender representation on the team in previous years being predominantly female, Winter Guard has often been viewed as a girls’ sport at Saratoga High. However, freshmen Sean Ryan and Jared Ho and sophomore Alec Lockhart were hardly discouraged by this gender stereotype when they decided to join the team last month. Winter Guard has reached a historic number of four male members this season. In the past two years, junior Austin Shi, currently one of the four captains, had been the only male member on the team. A winter percussion member last year, Lockhart decided to join Guard because he wanted to try something within the realm of the music department that was different from winter percussion. Despite the stigma surrounding boys in predominantly female sports, Lockhart said this did not deter him from joining. “If people don’t accept me for what I want to do, then that’s their problem, not mine,” Lockhart said. According to senior Amelia Schwabe, Shi’s natural leadership and dedication to Guard has led other boys to take up interest in the sport. “A lot of guys feel intimidated by the style of the dance in guard,” Schwabe said. “But [Shi] looks so cool when he’s performing that they’re like, ‘Woah, what if I could do that?’” Shi said he has often felt the need to prove his skill to the team. He said some members have expressed their dissatisfaction about his receiving solos simply because he is a guy. “With the inclusion of more boys at a lower level, it shows the rest of the Guard that everyone has to work really hard,” Shi said. “Just because you’re a boy doesn’t mean you get a solo.” Unlike previous years, this year’s Winter Guard will be separated into a JV and varsity team. With auditions held on Nov. 18, 15 members made the varsity team, while the remaining 16 will be on JV. “The changes this year have been a while in the making,” senior Isabelle Tseng said. “We talked about having two guards last year, but we weren't ready to make it work logistically. This year, our instructors spent a lot of the summer and fall season prepping for two guards and a more formal audition process.” Shi said the implementation of a JV and varsity team will benefit both returning and new members. “Because we only had one guard [in previous years], we had a mashup of really talented individuals with new members who had little to no experience,” Shi said. “Having a varsity and a JV team allows more talented individuals to show off their skills without JV members struggling to match the same standards as varsity.” The three instructors — Joey Kidd, head coach, Brittany Bennet and Gustavo Morales — have helped to bring more fluidity to the team and help each member develop their skills. According to Shi, Kidd helps with choreography and flag skills, Bennet teaches rifle and saber and Morales focuses on saber and dance. The Guard is preparing for many competitions, including the California Color Guard Circuit (CCGC) show on Jan. 28 at James Logan High School, the Winter Guard International (WGI) on Feb. 25 in Modesto, and the WGI Western Regional on March 24-27 in Las Vegas. Shi is especially excited for this upcoming season because of the new male additions. “From a captain’s standpoint, this year looks really promising,” Shi said.