Three hour practices, weekend-long competitions across the country, and a long season make being a member of the Naperville Central Spirits color guard a full time commitment.
“Honestly in every college essay I wrote about it because it means so much to me and it’s been such an integral part of my life these last four years,” said NCHS Spirits Senior Kathryn Rodgers. “It’s just weird because we only have a week off between the two seasons so to not have it is going to be so weird because I’ve had it every day for four years.”
In the Fall, you can see the color guard perform as they toss their rifles, sabres, and flags alongside the band at football games. But their season extends well beyond that.
The winter guard takes over with their own competitions.
“Winter guard is a lot more competitive and a lot more dance based,” said NCHS Spirits Senior Sabrina McColl. “Where in color guard we’re with the marching band and it’s more focused on the band than with the guard where the guard is the complete focus in the winter.”
For graduating seniors, it’s been four years of near-constant spinning.
But that kind of commitment is required when you’re catching rifles thrown 15 feet into the air.
“If you’re given a trick or a skill that you don’t know how to do it can often be scary because a lot of times you’re throwing it in the air hoping you don’t hit yourself,” said NCHS Spirits Senior Emily Wilkinson. “So there’s the aspect of fear for me because I’ve gotten hit so many times, I’ve gotten stitches in my head. So there’s getting over that fear factor.”
The Spirits hold teamwork and competition as two of the many values they hope to build in their athletes.
“I feel like you can be super strong so like being a girl there’s always a stereotype that we’re passive and weak and stuff,” said NCHS Spirits Senior Marissa Kula. “But on rifle you can kind of show off that I’m really strong and I can catch this stuff and do really well.”
The NCHS Spirits wrap up their season April 12-15 at the 2018 Color Guard World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.
And the more they spin, the more they win.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.