Cell Phone Saavy: Preparing Your Communication Hub for Competition Day

| January 22, 2010 | 1 Comment

I have a confession to make…

Up until I got my iphone I owned a cell phone, but I never used it.

I didn’t know how to program things in.  I missed every call.  I was the one saying, “yeah… that’s my number but call me at home because I never hear it and I forget to check my voicemail.”  It drove my guard staff crazy.  And seriously… if they needed to get in touch with me they called the team captains (because you know every teenager is glued to their cell phone!).

But then came the iphone.  For this internet addict I now had a computer I could carry around with me to check my email and facebook.  Now my phone was there too.  And believe it or not… I no longer even have a landline telephone.

And now I realize what a GREAT organizational tool this would have been all those years I was coaching and taking kids on field trips! What a great way to organize all that information you need on a field trip and to make sure you’ve got emergency numbers on hand and can get to them quickly!

Here are some tips to prepare your Cell Phone for Competition Day!


1.  Create a Guard Folder:

Create a guard section and type in every possible contact number you might need.  Student, Mom, Dad, Home, Cell, Emergency Contacts… It might take a while to get it all in there, and maybe you’ll never have to use it.  But if an emergency does come up you’ll be glad you did it.  Plus it may come in handy when your floor crew gets separated from the team and you need to make sure everyone is accounted for!  So grab a bottle of water or cup of hot chocolate, put on your favorite music in the background and start punching in those numbers!

2.  Don’t Forget School-Related Numbers:

  • Find out which administrator needs to be contacted should an emergency situation arise (the bus breaks down, a student gets hurt… or heaven forbid someone on the trip breaks school policies).  And get a second number too in case that administrator can’t be reached.
  • Know the number for transportation.  I once had a bus driver so awful I had to call transportation from the competition site to request a new driver for the ride home!
  • And don’t forget staff and band directors numbers.

3.  Contest-Related Numbers:

Most contests have a cell-phone contact for an on-site coordinator.  DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!!  You never know when the bus will get stuck in traffic and you need to call to alert the contest officials you are running late.  And, while it’s best to make sure you’re prepared with all your maps and plenty of lead time… sometimes the bus just gets lost and you need to call for directions.


It’s not a bad idea to ask at least one other staff member (if you have one – a parent volunteer if you don’t) to plug in all these numbers too.  You never know when one wrong move might send that phone crashing to the ground… and oops… now all those numbers are gone.  Back up your communication strategy with a friend!


The night before the contest you’ll want to make sure your phone is fully charged.

Also – these can be LONG days!  Avoid using the phone for other “battery-draining” purposes throughout the day.  While you might have downtime to chat with a friend, play a few games on the bus or browse the web – it’s best to save the battery.

Take a charger along for the ride.  If you know it’s going to be a longer day than your battery can handle, take your charger with you.  Chances are you can find a wall outlet and recharge while you listen to your judges CDs or eat a snack.


Send out an email to parents with your contact information for show day the week before the contest.  Then, before leaving the school gather volunteers together and give them your number again so they can add you to their phones.  They’ll appreciate that you’ve covered all the bases!


Most bus drivers these days carry a cell phone with them for field trips.  As soon as you get on the bus, exchange phone numbers with the driver.  This can make it much easier to coordinate departure or find the bus after the show (I can’t count the number of times I went walking around the entire school looking for where the bus was parked with the entire gang of parents and students following along! NO MORE!).


Ultimately, you’ll want to have a paper copy of these numbers along with any student medical information stored in your medical bag for the trip as well.  But if you’ve got it all plugged into your phone it can help cut down on time when responding to an emergency and help make sure that you can get in touch with everyone on your team with just an easy click.

Anything to make the competition day a bit easier and calm the nerves to let you focus on the performance and the performers is well worth the time spent in preparation!


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Category: Performance, Preparation & Travel, Team Management, Travel

About the Author (Author Profile)

Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.

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