The first round of the annual Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts World Championships is now underway. The indoor competition includes color guard, percussion, and marching bands. The event brings thousands of young people from all over the world to Dayton, every year.
During a practice session this week at the Payne Recreational Center in Moraine, thirty or more high schoolers from Flanagan High School in Pemberpines, Florida begin a run through of the routine they hope will get them to the finals.
They run, leap and dance their way across the floor. Some wave large colorful flags while others push props or twirl rifles then throw them high into the air and catch them on the way down. It's a lot of work, says Dean Broadbent, color guard director for Flanagen.
“It is pretty taxing on all of us and when we get to this point in the year, we are tired but the adrenaline of the week kind of gets us through.”
This year Winter Guard International celebrates it’s 40th year - the competition has been in Dayton for 30 of those years. 338 color guards, and 270 wind and percussion marching bands from around the country will battle it out over two weekends in a spectacle of sound, color and athleticism.
“There’s a couple hotspots in the country - a couple great groups from Indiana have come that are kind in the lead now," says Broadbent.
"We have groups from California coming that are really strong. In South Florida alone there's three scholastic world guards and all of us are neck and neck, really good competitors, smart instructors, really talented kids, and then plus you have kids coming from the northeast so all of them come together to hopefully make the fifteen finalist on Saturday.”
Adyn Register is a 17 year-old junior at Flanagan. She and her teammates have worked hard to get to this point.
“I think our greatest challenge was really just finding out how to be a team together. I personally just had to learn how to be consistent in what I do and to come back every day with a great attitude,” she says.
Team captain, Natalie Santana is in her 2nd year in the World Guard and says WGI has taught her to be a leader.
“It’s taught me to think outside the box in many different ways so if I can’t solve a problem one way, there’s always three other ways I can solve it," Santana says. "You just have to work real hard to try and fix things and be professional about it without being crazy and hectic."
The color guard portion of the competition continues through Saturday and you’ve got another chance to see percussion and winds marching bands compete in Dayton the weekend of April 21st.
See the competition schedule and list of performance venues at WGI.org.