The Magic of Winter Guard


Potomac Falls High School’s Winter Guard program returns after COVID-19 cut their previous two seasons short.

    Winter Guard 2021-2022 brings back guard enthusiasts for their first full season in two years. A competitive sport full of dance, technique, skill, and passion from all high school grades, winter guard starts off strong with returning members as well as several new recruits. 

    Guard is much more than throwing objects in the air and moving across a floor for a few minutes. “[It’s] an indoor showcase of movement involving equipment such as flags, rifles, and sabers,” said sophomore Melia Wallace.

    As guard grows in popularity, many new students have auditioned and joined the team. “I had a couple of friends in winter guard and I was told it was a very fun and nice environment full of kind people and it was really motivating,” said junior Kate Sheppard.

    Winter Guard is hard work, requiring students to learn the basics and rigorously practice the routines to perfection so they are ready for the competitions later in the season. “We have practices twice a week normally, but we practice for a full three hours. Practices are late, running from 6:30pm-9:30pm,” said junior Landon Linn. “We spend a lot of time building skills and then cleaning and cleaning our show, so we get good at what we do.”

    Learning and practicing the basic moves is the first step to creating a competitive performance. “I used to hate doing tosses, which is where you throw the flag up in the air and then you catch it, but those are really starting to grow on me,” said Sheppard.

    Being involved in any competitive extracurricular activity requires discipline, focus, and planning. “One of the biggest challenges is getting all of my homework done. Three hour practices are long, and there’s the added time of getting to school with enough time to get equipment to the cafeteria and then getting home after practice,” said Linn.

    Students are motivated to put in long hours of work so they can showcase their skills in front of an audience during competitions. “I love competitions. They’re an all day event where you can perform and watch other guards perform,” said Wallace.

    PFHS offers two types of guard programs, color guard with the marching band and winter guard which includes only guard members. “Guard with the marching band is less of a focus on our specific skills and technique. With winter [guard], all focus is on us, so I feel like I have to step up a bit to improve and make sure that I am doing the best I can,” said Linn.

    Trying new things includes getting out of your comfort zone. “I haven’t done a lot of dance [in the past], so feeling comfortable about that and putting emotion into my dancing isn’t something I’m used to,” said Sheppard.

    With guard not being as well known as other extracurriculars, there are some misconceptions about what is required to put together a comprehensive performance, especially about the  athleticism guard members need to have. “You have to be strong enough to not only spin your equipment but be able to properly control it. You don’t have to just toss a rifle in the air, you have to properly catch it as well,” said Linn.

    Winter Guard takes time, dedication, and practice to be a part of the competitive team. Not only does guard teach you new skills and techniques, it also offers a friendly environment for all no matter the skill level.