A new program will debut at the Morris Community High School this season. Names have just been announced for members of the MCHS Winterguard — a program that Coach Laura Zomboracz says is common at other high schools across the state, but it will be in its first year at Morris.
Winterguard is similar to colorguard, which Morris has had in place for years. Most know the colorguard from football pre-game and halftime shows. They perform with the marching band with tall flags twirling. Their season ends with the football season.
Winterguard is a bit of a step up, with more complicated routines and drills and the introduction of rifles. Not real guns, of course, but white wooden ones designed for faster, more advanced moves, spins, and tosses.
The team will also be on a competitive circuit. Colorguard currently competes alongside the band in the Marching Redskins competitions, but winterguard performs on its own – not with the band.
“Winterguard is very different in that we have the opportunity to be a lot more creative,” Zomboracz said. “There will be more challenging moves and drills.
“The guard won’t be performing with live band music, either. They will perform indoors with recorded music, moving from an arena the size of a football field to one the size of a basketball court.”
The guard will perform at some basketball halftimes and at their competitions. Zomboracz said she’s excited to bring the program to Morris.
Zomboracz remembers being a part of a very competitive winterguard program when she was a student at Plainfield High School. Then at Illinois State University, she was captain of the Big Red Marching Machine colorguard. It was a great experience, she said, and a lot of fun.
“Last year was my first year at the high school,” she said, “but I know the girls have been asking for the program for a few years.”
Senior Captains of Winterguard are Sabrina Slater and Jackie DesLauriers, and Emaly Garcia is the junior captain. All three were also in colorguard.
“There will be more dancing with winterguard,” Sabrina explained. “It will be about half flag work and half dancing, and we will be going to competition. I really like guard, and I wanted to try the new winterguard. I used to be in dance, and I think that will be a plus.”
“I’ve been in colorguard all four years in high school,” Jackie said, “and I just love to do it. Sometimes it can be frustrating, like when we learn new things, but it’s worth it when you eventually get it.”
Jackie said using the rifles will give a whole new dimension of difficulty and challenge to the guard, and she’s excited at the prospect.
“I think it will look cool when we all get it down,” she said.
“The rifles will be fun,” Emaly added. “It will be really different with the weight and the difficulty levels, but I think I can do it.”
Fourteen students, sophomores through seniors, tried out for the team, and nine got on, with freshman Brooke Brummel as team manager.
For the tryouts, Zomboracz taught them fundamentals, then a 16-count advanced sequence. She said she was looking to see how quickly they caught on to learning the moves.
The rifles will be a level up in difficulty from flags, she said.
“Once you are confident with a flag,” Zomboracz explained, “you usually move to the rifle, then to a sabre.”
Rifles are three feet long, as opposed to flags, which are six feet in length.
“A lot of dance can be combined with the rifle and more advanced tosses,” she said. “They rotate very quickly. It also increases the risk a little bit, as you can get hurt if you catch it wrong.”
Team members are seniors Jackie DesLauriers and Sabrina Slater; juniors Janelle Bakacs, Emaly Garcia, Kristen Prodehl and Madeline Sandgren; and sophomores are Brittany Hand, Laurel Harper and Samantha Kesler.
The team will begin practicing in December after the colorguard performs with the MCHS Marching Redskins in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.