Give Winter Guard a Whirl


Guard member Diana Naselska during practice. Photo courtesy of Fluvanna Photos.

Ellie Farmer, FCHS Journalist

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Winter guard, the sport that sometimes isn’t just a sport, had me hooked from the first toss. It’s an art that not many people know about, let alone consider joining. But if, like me, you decide to give it a spin, it can be one of the best choices you’ve ever made.   

To begin with, winter guard can produce positive physical changes. As with most high energy activities and sports, you start off really tired and sore after the first couple weeks of practices. But later you’ll start to notice that you’re able to do things that people who don’t dance or exercise can’t, such as being super flexible. Before joining guard, I was barely able to touch my toes. Now, after two seasons, I can do it with ease, as well as almost-splits and leaps.

Strength, endurance, and especially weight loss are also major areas where you’ll see differences from guard.  Since winter guard is basically dance with stunts including twirling, throwing, and catching relatively heavy equipment, it’s quite a workout. You have to use all of your muscles and really be in tune with your body to make sure you perform well and not injure yourself. Since practices are only two or three days a week, you have to add some sort of practice at home or you’ll get really sore.

“People often comment on how easy they think guard is, and ask why we need to stretch, warm up, etc., and the answer is simple: We are athletes. We need to take care of our bodies just like any other sport, otherwise we will end up with an injury,” said winter guard Captain Amber Sigmann.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that guard tends to change your mindset. Too often, people assume they can’t do something new and won’t even attempt to try. However, being surrounded with positive influences like my instructor and captains, I’ve learned to memorize complicated routines and perform my heart out. One of best things about Fluvanna’s winter guard is that there’s usually no cut list after tryouts. That support–mixed with learning dance basics, choreography and tosses and tricks with sabres, rifles, and flags–will help you learn to do more than you ever imagined.

One of the best benefits of joining guard is that you’ll make new friends, connect with your teammates and find yourself a part of a second family.  Between helping each other with hair and makeup, and sharing everything from food to hairspray to bobby pins, you’ll find kindred spirits, especially when hours upon hours are spent practicing, performing, and basically living with your team.   

“Winter guard is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that changed my life. The friends I made turned into family and I will never forget it,” said Diana Naselska, an alumnus and senior member of the guard.

Winter guard is one of the best things that I’ve been a part of and it has benefited me in so many ways.  I encourage you to look into it and see if it’s for you. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s definitely worth it. Give it a whirl and prepare to get immersed in a world full of muscles, smiles, and family that’ll change your life for the better.   


Editor’s Note: Winter guard for 2019 is already closed. However, if you’re interested in trying out next year, look for tryout announcements in October of the 2020 school year.