Sophomore Sophia Milligan: Color Guard, Not A Piece of Cake


Michelle Mirza

The girls, clothed in their signature outfits, gracefully dance through the air with perfect form. Grasping their flags with all their might, one might scoff and think that it is a piece of cake, but little do they know that it is far from that. Cringe-worthy bruises, sweat-drenched shirts, and long, strenuous hours of rehearsal are some of the things that come with being on Color Guard. It is hardly a piece of cake. Sophomore Sophia Milligan is one of the many dedicated members in the varsity Color Guard family who can vouch for that.

Color Guard is a team where dancers spin, and toss flags along with sabres and rifles. They perform alongside the band at footballs games as well as perform at competitions designated only for Color Guard. However, the technical definition fails to showcase how hard Milligan and many just like her really work.

“[Practices] are 3 hours long and we start off with doing a stretch block, pulling the floor.” Milligan said. “We will then either do basics or do two to three run-throughs. After that, we start cleaning or learning work and then around eight o’clock, we watch the JV do a full run and then we continue to practice on the floor. It’s pretty intense.”

Not only is it strenuous being in Color Guard itself, but it is an even bigger challenge getting onto the varsity team. The process nerve-wracking and stressful, consisting of an advanced routine created by the staff that is learned in two to three days. Then they audition in pairs.   Milligan worked very hard to make varsity.

“It’s insanely hard,” Gilligan said. “You really have to practice, be professional, and so much more. I was a total hot mess but I continued working extremely hard and made varsity Color Guard for marching season.”

And Milligan’s hard work payed off when she made weapon line and even a place on Winterguard, the competition team that performs after marching season.

“Honestly, it feels like a privilege that I have been given,” said Milligan. “Over the past year and a half, I’ve worked really hard to get on [varsity].”

Contrary to popular belief, the girl in spotlight originally wanted nothing to do with such a program.

“My friend forced me to come [but] I couldn’t be more thankful that she made me. I truly can’t see myself anywhere else.”

Just like that, Milligan was pushed into action. The girls spend most of their time rehearsing and practicing until the routine is perfect. They spend long, grueling hours jumping and gliding in the air simultaneously while sometimes holding a flag, scared of dropping it because of bolts inserted into the pole to balance it.

“I’ve dropped the flag many, many times, but the only thing that truly matters is how quickly you get back in and continue to perform,” Milligan said.

At competitions their practicing is finally put to the test and the games begin. Competitions are usually held at other schools such as Bear Creek Intermediate or Keller Middle School against other Color Guards in the district, their main competitor being Central.

“They are insanely competitive,” Milligan said. “Our school has one of the very best Color Guard and Winterguard programs in Texas, so a lot of the schools make it their goal to beat us.”

Well, bring it on people. Bring it on.

Milligan may look fierce on the outside but while the claws are retracted, stage fright is a continuous weight on her shoulders, a weight that she usually cannot afford.

“There’s always a possibility when we toss [our flags] that we might drop it, and it’s pretty darn scary,” Milligan said. “It helps when you’re self-confident and perform your heart out, though. And plus, it’s always a great feeling that our hard work has paid off in the end.”

Amongst all the nerves, heavy poles, sweat, and Mean Girls moments, just like any other program at Keller, Color Guard brings people together and creates bonds that can last forever, as cheesy as that sounds.

All the hard work Milligan and the others put in helps cultivate “a healthy lifestyle, time management and multitasking skills, a new way to cope with anxiety, and best of all, a new family.”

All of that “lasting forever” cheesiness proves true because Milligan plans on doing Drum Corp or “highly advanced marching band” in the future, and is already searching for certain Color Guard programs in colleges that she would like to join.

Milligan recommends Color Guard to anyone because “you learn a lot of skills like discipline and how to take criticism without feeling personally attacked. You’re bound to love it!”

Color Guard auditions are in May and Winterguard auditions are in November, so always be on the lookout for announcements if you are interested in joining. If you have any questions about the program, just look for people wearing the signature Color Guard jackets and feel free to ask.

“It’s nice to have someone to talk to you about programs you’re in,” Milligan said.

And there you have it folks, the saying still stands: Color Guard is definitely not a piece of cake. However, another saying still stands: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and before you know it, you too could be a part of the expert bakers in the bakery. As for me, I think I’ll stick to the store-bought treats.