By Sarah Colson
After going without a program for nine years, Science Hill High School’s Winter Guard coach, Joshua Dishner, said he’s proud to coach a team so dedicated to hard work and choreography. On Saturday, the team ended its season with first place overall in its class at the CIPA (Carolina Indoor Performance Association) and 15th overall against 68 teams from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The competition was held at Western Carolina University.
Dishner said Winter Guard differs from Color Guard in that it’s performed inside to a soundtrack versus outside on the field at halftime with the band.
“The soundtrack we used was called ‘I Live’ by OneRepublic,” he said. “We wanted to do something easy for the kids to relate to. It was just about taking advantage of every opportunity and owning every second. They did really well with it.”
Dishner said he and his staff, Austin Price and Ashlee Whaley, were excited to see the all-girl team of 12 “click” with the music.
“I remember we had a competition in South Carolina,” Dishner said, “and that performance it just sort of clicked. We had been trying to get them to relate to the music and respond to it. It was really cool to watch them when they finally did.”
In a Winter Guard competition, teams and routines are judged by five judges: one movement judge, one equipment judge, a design analysis judge and two general effect judges. Teams are judged based on how well the overall show flows, how the “body is manipulated with the equipment, and how well the kids execute the choreography.” The movement and equipment judges sit low and close to the teams to see specific details, while the other judges sit up higher in order to take in the whole site. Each routine is about four minutes long.
Dishner said the program has been gone for so long because of some staffing transitions. He has been at Science Hill for five years and said he and his team have been pushing for a Winter Guard team since day one.
“A lot of it had to do with the funding and rehearsal space,” he said, “because we have to use the gym or a bigger space because we have a floor we pull out to help protect the gym floor. During that transition year we felt as a whole staff that it wasn’t ready. But this year we were able to bring it back and able to take it to the next step.”
The team did a fundraiser from Buffalo Wild Wings and also had a lot of help from the band boosters. Dishner said he’s grateful to all the support he’s gotten from the school and parents. What he’s most impressed with, however, has been the hard work his team has put in to make it all worthwhile. They practice together as a team twice a week for three hours each practice.
“The big thing that has impressed me is how well the kids have grown and developed,” he said. “You just see their passion for it. It gets them excited and they just want to get others excited. None of them had participated in Winter Guard before so they didn’t know what to expect. We went to our first competition at Sullivan South and they were able to see some groups. It was interesting to find we didn’t even have to tell them to start performing. They just started doing it. They were able to connect with the audience and make it their own.”