To the Grand Rapids Color Guard 2014

This weekend, I had the blessing and pleasure to spend a day doing one of the things I love the most with a group of kids that means more to me than I ever thought they would. Saturday was the famous ‘double show day’ for many marching bands in Minnesota, and my band was no exception.

I’m not going to go into crazy detail about it all, but at the first show, (my first time seeing the production in well over a week,) they had a pretty decent run – but it was enough for the band to take home top percussion, top color guard, and first overall. The second show was the absolute best I’ve seen it yet, and it was a second-place run for the band. So they’ve already brought home some hardware, and their season is just starting.

But the point of this isn’t to tell you, my ‘regular reader’ about the competition weekend; no. I’m doing this post for my color guard. My eighteen girls and one boy that I’ve been working with, yelling at, clicking too, and writing twirls for all summer. That’s who this one is for.

As both a performer and coach, I’ve learned to take everything that happens with scores and placements with not just a grain of salt, but pretty much an entire case of shaker of salt. Yeah, it’s fun to say “oh, we won first place!” or “best color guard in our section at the show today!”, but what does it really mean? Are you going to remember that you scored a 71.3 on September 9th in 2011, or when you won top percussion, top color guard, and second place in 2019? (Those are made up, obviously, I don’t remember much from my actual high school marching days.) Anyway, the answer is no. You’re not going to remember the scores or even the placements down the road. You might remember a couple, but thers’s something else you’re going to remember. Something that’s going to overtake the scores and the placement and the drops and the drama. You’re going to remember the inside jokes, the bus rides, the friendships, and the feeling of coming off the field after your best run of the season.

Who cares what the judges think, anyway? It’s some random person sitting in a little box that writes on a piece of paper their opinion of your show. Why is it up to them to tell you what your band family ranks against other band families? Don’t let it be the deciding factor of how much fun you decide your season is or was. That judge doesn’t even know a quarter of it. Do you think they know about the almost-two-hours we spent writing twelve counts in the opener during band camp? Or that the entire color guard has “Turn Out For What?” t-shirts? Or that we all have altoids together before every single show, and that it’s ‘fresh clean breath for fresh clean work’? What about our warm up song – are they the ones dancing at the end of it with us, or hearing for the umpteenth time that COLOR GUARD YOU HAVE TO SQUEEZE YOUR LEG AND CONTROL YOUR UPPER BODY? Hm, is it? Do they?

I will tell you one thing, though – something special is going to happen at the end of the season, especially for the seniors. You’re going to have one more run of 655321. It’s funny, because the last run is when you’re in full make up, hair all done up, and in uniform, when really, that’s the smallest part of the season. It almost seems like it would be more symbolic or more fitting to have your very last rep be in rehearsal clothes; since that’s what you’ve done most of the time anyway.

But that’s not the way it works. You don’t have your last rep be in clothes you’ve lived in for the past few months, and you are going to be worrying about your make-up running and smearing. The audience there is going to be the last one you’ll see while throwing that triple after you make a face at one of your fellow members.

So don’t worry for a second about the placement or the scores or anything. Have you had fun this season? Did you get better? If your answers are yes, then you’ve already done it right.

The rest is cake.

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Author: erikabunk

Raised in Northern Minnesota, Interdisciplinary major in Radio and Business & Entrepreneurship at Columbia College Chicago. Enjoys long runs on the lakefront path at dawn, public radio, and lefse covered in butter w/ cinnamon sugar. Spends too much time on Spotify, in search of the best record store in the world, and dreams of returning to Reykjavík.

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