Guarding the nation: Noblesville’s winter guard achieved a nationally recognized win


A color guard routine is all-encompassing, an experience reminiscent of a big top circus. In the ring, a thousand different acts intertwine into one cohesive spectacle. Bareback riders do handstands atop their horses, a juggler tosses bowling pins into the air, and above it all, a trapeze artist sails through the air. Only, there are no horses or bowling pins or swings. Instead, there are sabres, rifles, and flags flying in all directions and an elite team of dual athletes and dancers interpreting a piece of music in a way that challenges the limits of what the human body can do. There’s something wondrous happening everywhere you look. 

This is what the Noblesville winter guard is capable of. And as a result, they placed second in WGI, the national guard competition. However, members like Amelia Jarrett, a junior, say that color guard is more than just a competitive sport: It’s artistry. 

 “Guard in itself is very expressive, but it’s up to every individual to really mold the type of expression they most enjoy—whether that be with solely dance or with some of the equipment we use,” Jarrett said.

Color guard, originating from the military, evolved into an athletically challenging and competitive sport that involves musical interpretation. As such, its members retain the discipline and resilience of their military predecessors. 

“Being challenged by difficult work and nailing it gives me that drive to keep pushing myself,” Jarrett said. 

Guard members put this drive to the test during their competition season. The Noblesville guard takes its members to competitions all over the country. 

“Every year we compete in the state circuit which is IHSCGA, Indiana High School Color Guard Association,” Jarrett said. “We also competed in the national circuit WGI, Winter Guard International, and we’ve competed at nationals this year in Dayton, Ohio.”

Sophomore Britany Tochimani enjoys tracking the team’s progress over time. As a second-year guard member, she’s looking forward to watching the group improve. 

“I am so glad and beyond thankful that I was in the guard last year because we won state. It felt amazing for that to happen my first year,” Tochimani said. 

Tochimani admits that a second win this year wasn’t guaranteed. Guards across the state have been improving rapidly as well.

 “We had really good competitors this year, and I think that’s what makes it so much more fun,” Tochimani said. 

Competition is the heart and soul of the winter guard experience. Freshman member Alyssia Caulk looks forward to meeting other like-minded people when she competes. 

“During a competition, everyone cheers for every guard, and everyone is super kind,” Caulk said. “It’s like you’ve known them for years.”

 However, competition isn’t everything in the winter guard world. Junior member Nat Jasper values the color guard community as much as the competitions.

“Guard is just in general an amazing way to make new friends and express yourself in a fun and creative way,” Jasper said. “Not only is it an outlet for creativity, it has an amazing competitive aspect with support for and from all teams.”

While the rigorous competition schedule may seem nerve-wracking, Jasper believes that it’s beneficial for the growth of the group.

“Going to these huge competitions like WGI finals creates such an inspirational atmosphere,” Jasper said.

And, after months of practice and teamwork, the girls’ effort paid off. After placing first in the regional competition, they placed second in the nation at WGI.  

“The fact that we at one point were placed second in the nation gives me a lot of confidence in this team.” Jasper said. “Having grown up watching and being a part of this guard I can most definitely say it’s headed in the right direction.”

The winter guard continues to apply themselves in practice, which can last up to four hours at a time. Freshman Zoe Myers notices the payoff.

“Practices can be pretty tough and long,” Myers said. “But super rewarding when you spend all that time and learn new things and skills every day.”

At the end of the day, members like Myers and Jarrett may be drawn to color guard for the thrill of competing or the pursuit of athletic and artistic excellence, but they stay for the family that the winter guard has formed together. 

“I couldn’t imagine myself doing any other activity with any other group of people,” Jarrett said. “I really have found a family away from home that I know never fails to make my day better.”