Championship Spirit!

| February 29, 2008 | 0 Comments
Would you like to do a little something to make your trip to championships even more special for your performers?  Check out these ideas from other coaches for everything from teambuilding on the bus to recognizing chaperones.  Have an idea of your own to share?  Add to the article using the comments function! 

Seasons are quickly coming to a close as teams across the world look forward to local circuit championships, spring trips and even WGI World Championships competitions.  These events, which often involve overnight trips, can be some of the most memorable experiences of the year for performers.  They’re also wonderful opportunities for team-bonding and member retention.

Instructors and Parents can help make these trips even more special by planning team-building opportunities or little surprises to make performers feel special throughout their exciting weekend.  From a simple banner on the bus to a flower or balloon to carry out to awards, you don’t have to go overboard to let the performers know you’re proud of them.  Need some ideas?  Here are a few shared by our community of color guard educators!

Decorate! Decorate! Decorate!

Leaving their “home field” and heading off to somewhere far away, without the advantage of having a crowd of “fans” in the stands can make some performers nervous.  You can make sure they know that even if their whole crew isn’t traveling with them they are cheering them on and supporting them from home!  Rose Molinary, the guard instructor at Raceland-Worthington High School in Raceland, Kentucky says that before big trips the “band parents will decorate the band room for the students and the section leaders will usually decorate every student’s locker.”

bannerDon’t have time to organize decoration of the entire band room (or perhaps your band director might not appreciate it?) consider sprucing up the bus a bit!  Print a banner to hang in the back of the bus (with the permission of the driver, of course) wishing everyone a successful trip.  You can even make a second banner – one for “Good luck” and then a follow up for “Great Job!” which you can switch out after the final performance for some extra smiles!

Stick with your USUAL Performance Rituals

Many teams already have routines and pre-performance rituals in place.  It’s important not to change this too much for a championship performance.  Performers take comfort in routine.  Adding something different, even if it’s fun, prior to a championships performance can throw some of them off and created added anxiety.  So, avoid changing too much during your standard run through the warm-up circuit.

Parent Spirit Crew

Parents can really make the day or weekend special for performers and free up the staff to concentrate on instruction and warm-up.  A volunteer parent “spirit-leader” can often come up with great ways to enhance the trip and organize all the chaperones to get involved.

Make sure the parents understand that their activities should not interfere with warm-up and performance.  Ask them to run their ideas past you, if you’re worried, so that you can catch anything that might unnerve the students prior to or during the performance and cause a loss of focus or worse, tension between parents and staff.

Some ideas for the parent spirit crew include:

1.  Wearing the team t-shirt (or a special t-shirt designed just for that day)

2.  Making sure to cheer extra loudly to make up for the smaller fan-base

3.  Making spirit flags or signs to wave in the stands

4.  Going crazy dressing in unit colors or theme!  Have fun with it!

5.  Bringing noisemakers or bells to jingle before and after the performance.

6.  Wearing spirit buttons.

tunnelSometimes it’s the simple and free things which show the performers you are proud of them and make the most impact.  One season, after a succesful finals performance, the Broad Run High School parent chaperones simply lined up in front of the hotel entrance and made a tunnel with their arms for the performers to walk through as they got off the bus.  They cheered as the students walked through prompting huges smiles on every face!

Performer Gifts

Many instructors like to include a small gift as part of their championships traditions.  These can be a nice surprise for performers or even a keepsake of their weekend.

Several coaches have shared that they prepare surprise “goodie bags” for performers, especially in the case of an early morning departure or performance.  Get out to the bus first, before the students arrive, hang your banners, and leave goodie bags in the seats as a surprise.  Molinary says they try to fill their “Goodie bags” with healthy snacks.  Try breakfast bars and a mini bottle of water!  Jody Jones, Color Guard Instructor at Broughton High School in Raleigh, North Carolina says during the fall season his kids prepare goodie bags in a “Secret Santa” type of gift exchange with a $5.00 limit to the gift and exchange them on the bus prior to arrival.

Food items are always a hit.  One year, Jones asked a parent to bake “AIA” cookies to give the kids for their trip to their local circuit championships and I have always had good luck with Rice Crispy treats or iced cookies cut into the shape of a flag.

 Other common gifts for performers include flowers to carry after their performance or during retreat, balloons, a small stuffed animal or another inexpensive item.  You could even give performers a pair of fun socks to wear with a note “You rock my Socks!”  One year I actually collected large rocks and painted them with the message “You Rock!”  It was a huge hit!


Team Time on the Bus

On a trip that involves a long bus ride you can use some of the time on the bus for team-building activities.

Karen Ashworth, colorguard instructor at Dominion High School in Sterling, VA shares some ideas she has used with her own daughter’s ice skating team on long bus rides.  “We have a ‘crown’ or hat competition.  We supply each girl with a handful of colorful pipe cleaners and have them create a unique head piece.  Then we have them model them in the runway (center aisle of the bus) [presumably when the bus has stopped moving] and videotape each one.”  Another fun idea, “We also have each skater provide one bit of info about themselves that the others may or may not know and put all of them on a piece of paper.  Then we hand each skater a print out of all of the info and they have to match each item to a skater.  We collect and grade them and whoever gets the most right gets a small prize!”

Don’t forget the Chaperones!

Being a trip chaperone is often a thankless and tiring job.  Often responsible for nighttime supervisions, chaperones get very litle sleep.  Then they end up with hours of doing hair or carting around heavy equipment.  They come because they love their kids and love to see them perform.  But it’s not always a “fun” job.  Staff members and students can help brighten their smiles by remembering them too!

 Something that I do for my parents each year at Broad Run High School is I take a photo of each student.  Then I get the reusable photo buttons you can purchase at a craft store that just snap together.  I print the photo with the words “#1 fan of…” and the student’s name.  Parents love these and tend to wear them season after seasons with senior parents wearing all four of their buttons to each show!

Jody Jones from Broughton share a fantastic and fun idea!  “The last year we had to travel for champs, the kids made goody bags for the parents and we had the hotel staff deliver them to their rooms.  It was just candy and stuff but the parents did get a kick out of it.  It also included a card signed by the kids thanking them for their support.”


It doesn’t take a lot of money or time to do something small and unexpected that will really let your performers know that you are proud of all they accomplished throughout the season and that you want their trip to be amazing.  What other ideas do you have?  Let us know using the comments function below if you have another creative or fun idea for making your championships experience even more memorable!  Thanks for Sharing!

  Special thanks to Rose Molinary of Raceland-Worthington High School Color Guard , Karen Ashworth of Dominion High School Color Guard and Jody Jones of Broughton High School Color Guard for sharing their ideas and experience!

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

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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