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Morris Community High School winter guard takes first place in first competition

MORRIS – Morris Community High School’s 2016 winter guard members learn far more than how to twirl a flag or a rifle.

They learn social skills, confidence and who Alfred Hitchcock was.

The team is performing “Hitch” this year as they pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock and the iconic music that fans have grown to love.

“Last spring when I told the team we would be doing an Alfred Hitchcock-themed show this year, most of them didn’t know who he was,” coach Laura Zomboracz said. “I told them to go home and ask their parents.”

Winter guard is the sport of indoor color guard. Modern color guard is a combination of the use of flags, sabers, mock rifles and other equipment, as well as dance and other interpretive movement.

She said one of the students rented some Hitchcock movies and had the team over to learn about the “Master of Suspense.”

The 18 girls on this year’s team are performing to music from “Psycho,” “North by Northwest” and the theme to the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” as well as music from the album “Alfred Hitchcock Presents Music to Be Murdered By.”

In gray dresses with yellow trim, the team twirls bright yellow flags with the famous outline of Hitchcock on it and another flag with a “No Vacancy” image inspired by “Psycho.”

The team is competing this year in the Midwest Color Guard Circuit and will compete in nine competitions, the first of which was held Sunday at Naperville North High School, where the team took first place out of 17 teams.

It isn’t all twirling and tossing, however, senior team captain Mariela Guzman said. Guzman has been with the team since it started competing three years ago.

“It teaches you social skills and confidence,” Guzman said. “Coach Z teaches us how to be a better person, not just a better flag or rifle twirler.”

Zomboracz said the Morris program has grown leaps and bounds in the three years, and she’s surprised how quickly it became successful.

“Kind and hardworking girls makes it easier,” she said.

Senior Alicia Boers said she’s learned from her coach and fellow teammates that it’s OK to be yourself, and winter guard has increased her confidence. She said her teammates have become her closest friends.

“Yes, we learn technique, but Mrs. Z teaches us to love one another, too,” Boers said.

The friendship and closeness is what brought freshman Grace Zackavec to try out for the team.

“I went to competitions with my sister, who was on the team last year,” she said. “I saw they were more than just teammates, they’re a family and I wanted to experience that, too.”

Zomboracz knows a lot about the sport and the bonds formed. She’s competed or coached for 22 years total, competing as a student in high school and college.

In March, the team will travel to St. Louis to compete at a national level at the Winter Guard International regional competition.

“This will be the first time ever for Morris Community High School to be represented at a national level competition,” she said.

Zomboracz said she would like to see the sport grown in Morris to be able to compete in world level competitions in the future.

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