Winter guard builds teamwork, friendship


Members of the Leo Junior/Senior High School Winter Guard stand at attention at a practice Jan. 11. Their show this season is “The Dolls Will Play.”

Rifles, flags and dance lines all come together as the local winter guard competition season springs into high gear.

Color and winter guard offers a unique activity in which participating students can learn confidence, sportsmanship, dedication and communication, among other things.

“The unit really becomes a family,” Brittany Satterthwaite, who coaches several teams throughout the area, said in an email. “It is an awesome activity that provides structure and also teaches them such a unique art form while allowing them to push themselves beyond what they thought was possible.”

For the 2018 season, Satterthwaite is directing the Concordia Lutheran, DeKalb, Heritage and Norwell varsity and junior varsity groups. In years past she has also directed the Adams Central varsity and junior varsity winter guards.

Preparation for the winter guard season begins months before the auditions take place and starts with music selection and show design, followed by cutting the music, costume design and prop decisions.

“The big moments in any production really dictate what prop and floor design are needed for your show,” Satterthwaite said.

Steve Hoffman, owner and designer for Avant Guard Flags and Costumes, has been a huge asset in Satterthwaite’s programs as well as those of others, she said.

“[He] is always a big part of helping to make sure that the costumes, flags and floor design are all cohesive to the show design,” Satterthwaite said.

“In [winter guard] we don’t have the opportunity to use half of the team, or to only use the strongest performers. All of the kids matter and are equally important, so this really helps to create an environment where the kids want to help each other grow and develop skills for the benefit of the group,” Satterthwaite said, adding that for Concordia Lutheran this year, she has picked a song about best friends.

Satterthwaite has also directed a project called the Independence Winter Guard, which offers an open audition to all students in the Adams and Wells counties areas.

“This performance ensemble incorporated students from Adams Central, Bellmont, Norwell and South Adams, and was geared toward building friendships between schools while also allowing us to write challenging work to push high-level performers,” she said.

As she has had the opportunity to work with multiple groups at once, Satterthwaite pairs two teams from different schools together each year, encouraging members and their parents to go to each other’s competitions and cheer them on. The girls make snack bags, write encouraging notes and help each other carry tarps or other props on and off the floor at contests.

“It really helps to build lasting friendships, and teaches teamwork and sportsmanship,” she said. This year Concordia Lutheran and DeKalb have been paired, along with Heritage and Norwell.

Local area winter guards will compete through February to tune up for the run to state finals in March.

For more local and state winter guard information, visit the Indiana High School Color Guard Association website,

Northeast Indiana contests and statewide postseason contests include:

East Noble: Feb. 3, 11 a.m., 901 Garden St., Kendallville. Admission $7 for adults, $3 for ages 5 and younger, free for infants in lap. Local schools represented are Columbia City, Norwell, DeKalb, Concordia Lutheran, Eastside, Woodlan, Leo, East Noble, Bishop Dwenger, Carroll, Angola, Wayne, New Haven, Heritage, Huntington North, Snider and Homestead.

Carroll: Feb. 10, 10 a.m., 3701 Carroll Road, Fort Wayne. Admission $7 for adults, $3 for ages 5 and younger, free for infants in lap. Local schools represented are East Noble, Carroll, Bishop Dwenger, Concordia Lutheran, DeKalb, Columbia City, Eastside, Leo, Woodlan, Norwell, Wayne, Angola, New Haven, Huntington North, Heritage, East Noble, Snider and Homestead.

Regional A Preliminaries: March 3, 11 a.m., Mooresville High School, 550 N. Indiana St., Mooresville.

Class A Preliminaries: March 3, noon, Mount Vernon High School, 8112 N. C.R. 200 West, Fortville.

Region A Semi-Finals/Open/World Preliminaries: March 10, 10 a.m., Decatur Central High School, 5251 Kentucky Ave., Indianapolis.

Divisional Regional A/Cadet Divisional Finals: March 10, 10 a.m., Center Grove High School, 2717 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood.

State Championships: March 17, 11 a.m., Center Grove High School, 2717 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood.

Follow for postseason schedules and updates.