The ‘Winterguard Wand’ and Championships

| May 9, 2008 | 1 Comment

Well, this is it.  We have arrived at the last few fleeting moments of rehearsal before Championships (heavy sigh).  Hopefully all the final details of your shows have been put into place.  The performance flags have finally arrived from the seamstress, and your team has reached their absolute peak in performance (sarcasm noted).  Of course, you most likely yearn to hear your show music one more time…don’t fret, that nagging twitch will soon fade into oblivion!  Likewise, I am quite sure that some of you may still dream of your shows, while desperately trying to experience a good night sleep.  There really should be instructor therapy offered after each season!

If any of this applies to you, take heart and know that it is almost over.  For many of you Championships will be the last performance of the year for your team.  Others may have an end of the year program for your school to look forward to.  Whatever the case, the weekend of your local circuit championships will definitely herald the end of a long journey of endless designing, planning, logistics and rehearsing.  For some of you this may be bittersweet, others may be counting the days, hours, minutes and maybe even seconds till it is finished.

Considering this, it is imperative that you approach the aspect of Championships with a goal in mind for you and your students.  I would encourage you to impart to your students that performing in Championships is really much more than a medal or placing.  Sure it’s great if they get one of those imitation metal medallions to wear around their neck, but the reality is that many won’t.  As a circuit adjudication community we determine team placement at championships.  Some may say that this is the ultimate goal of the championship process, however it really isn’t.

So what is the goal?

First of all, you must set realistic expectations for your students as they enter into the championship arena.  There really is no ‘Winterguard Wand’ that will magically transform them into the medaling team.  The championship performance is not about luck or change.  The determination for being a Champion was really set for them way back in January!!  Not only this, but your students were the ones that had control of this determination.  Their positive attitudes were the beginning of the championship process.  True champions have a unique outlook which is an unfailing belief that focused, consistent effort will yield successful results.  Considering this, it is absurd to think that there are only 3 (gold, silver, bronze medalist) champions in each division.  If you have seen your team exhibit these traits, they are indeed true champions, and you should reward them for their efforts.  I guarantee that your recognition of this will pay dividends in the future of your program.

Next, I would like to propose an absurd concept.  When I think of championships, I do not think of medals and placement.  I think of ‘Celebration’.  It is as simple as that.  There is no doubt that we are all passionate about Winterguard since we gladly & willingly sacrifice so much of our time to it.  When else will you and your students be able to watch finale performances of the season from groups representative of all over the circuit?   This event is something special to be enjoyed and appreciated as a rare occurrence.  Considering this, make it a true celebration for your team.  Your students shoud walk away with the memory of the experience of championships, not so much the placement.  You have the power to make that happen!

Lastly, I have to admit that I am always looking for new ways to gain knowledge for myself and my students.  Because of this, Championships is an amazing instructor tool!  There are examples of ‘performance’ all around you.  Utilize the time in the stands to establish your vision for spectator etiquette with your team.  Likewise, as a designer, I am often inspired by other shows at Championships.  It is the only time that my own process has been fully completed.  I can take notes, and allow my mind to experience the creativity of others without having to reflect and improve upon my own show.  Think of this time as planting seeds in yourself and your students for the upcoming season.  As artists we often glean inspiration and motivation from each other – there is no better time to appreciate our creativity than at championships.

Championships does signal the end of the season with scores and medals, but I encourage you to look beyond and embrace the multitude of opportunities it provides.  Oh, by the way, I do believe that there is a ‘Winterguard Wand’, however with this wand you have the power to enrich Championships for your students beyond the performance.  Use it to make memories, traditions and celebrations!


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Category: Instruction, Performance, Preparation & Travel, Rehearsal Planning & Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Chris Casteel is an adjudicator with the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC). She was an instructor in the activity for approximately 20 years before moving into adjudication. She teaches Language Arts and Writing at a middle school in San Marcos, CA and is also a mentor teacher for the school. She holds a BA degree in Education, a California Teaching Credential and a Masters degree in education. Thanks to Chris Casteel for sharing her ideas and for WGASC for allowing the republication of her articles on this website for instructors outside of the WGASC circuit.

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