More Than a Half-Time Show

Being a part of the Dunbar color guard has changed my life in ways I never would have thought possible.


Courtesy of PLD Band

Claire Rich, Kyoko Hamagata, Ashley Verdi and Arunmani Phravorachith at a home football game.

As I look back at my time in the Dunbar color guard, it is clear to me that I had no idea of what I was walking into on that first day of clinics. I didn’t even realize that I would be required to spin flags or dance never mind toss rifles and sabers. What I didn’t realize until much later was that I had been walking into a world that would change my life. 

One of the things I quickly learned was that, by joining the color guard, I was becoming a part of a tight-knit family. The only people that truly understand the strain of the long hours of strenuous practice and the constant stress of competition are the ones going through it with you.

It’s impossible to count the number of times I have cried on the shoulders of the people in the guard after a tough practice or a difficult performance. But, these are the same people that I have laughed and celebrated with countless times at practice, outside of practice and after victorious competitions. In the guard, there is always a shoulder to lean on and someone to share a laugh with. The bonds created are truly unbreakable and, no matter what, I know that I can go to anyone in the guard and they’ll have my back.

The competition season is easily the most hectic time of the year. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. When it comes to competitions, it never is about winning. Sure, everyone wants to be in first place but throughout the years I’ve learned that the most important part of competing is giving the best performance possible. In the end competition is not about the number of medals and trophies you’ve won, it’s about the memories you create on and off the field. 

Performing… there’s nothing else like it. From the moment you walk onto the field, you get a feeling that is electric. The sound of the cheering crowd combined with the rush of adrenaline gives you a feeling that you can’t find anywhere else. To nail a toss and hear the roar of applause and cheers is an exhilarating feeling.  The thrill of performing, of expressing yourself with your body and equipment is something you can’t exchange for anything else. When you step off the field knowing that you’ve had the best run of your life, the energy from not only yourself but the others in the guard is so great that it’s indescribable. 

There is so much more to the color guard than what people see during the half-time show at football games. Color guard isn’t just about spinning flags or the rifles that go into the air. Not many can see the dedication and hard work to put on each season’s production. They don’t get to see behind the scenes and watch the journey that each performer takes.

Since my first rehearsal, I have grown as a person and as a performer. One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Dunbar guard. Because of the program, I can say that I have performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, that I have had the opportunity to compete against groups from around the world, and that I have created the strongest of friendships. 

They say that home is where the heart is and that has never been more true to me than it is now. The Dunbar guard is and will always be my family and will forever hold a piece of my heart. I’m beyond fortunate to have found a home in this amazing organization and to have been able to create memories that will last a lifetime.