The Kokomo High School Winter Guard earned 4th among the 18 squads that qualified for the 2013 Class A State Finals in the Indiana High School Color Guard Association (ISCGA) competition last Saturday (March 23) at Center Grove High School. Saturday’s competition marked the 11th consecutive appearance for the Wildkats in the ISCGA State Finals.
The 2012-2013 KHS Winter Guard featured only two seniors – Head Captain Alyssa Wideman and Senior Captain Mercadise Brown; but because of the special bond among the young ladies on the current squad, the senior pair felt they enjoyed an outstanding season.
According to KHS Winter Guard Directors Deanne Wideman and Jack Pursifull, this group has a chance to turn in a strong performance if each girl simply relaxes and performs at the level they have shown during this season’s performances.
Rounding out the 17-member KHS Winter Guard squad are second-year performers: junior Kara Roe and sophomores Lynne Dang, Kynzee Halter, Allyssa Stone, and Shae Teague; and first-year performers: sophomores Rose Eberhardt and Stephanie Wiles; and freshmen Sarah Cheney, Nia Crowell, Sierra Feitl, Brianna Hunt, Courtney Pardue, Stephanie Reece, Alana Teague, and Kelsey Webber.
In addition to the directors, the leadership team includes: Chad Berkstresser, choreography; Billy Cox, prop design; Todd Wideman, classroom teacher; and John Pinson, band director.
After earning Top 3 medals as freshmen and sophomores, the senior captains said they established their goal of a Top 3 finish immediately after finishing 4th at the 2012 State Finals.
“That was so disappointing after winning medals our first two years,” Alyssa noted with a sigh. “If the girls do what we do best … and that is perform, then I believe we can definitely medal. The top 6 teams are so close this year … score wise, only tenths separate the top 6. If we do our best, we can be right there for the title.”
The keys, according to Alyssa and Mercadise, are “breathing, energy, and staying calm … if we do that, top 3 will be a breeze.”
When asked if qualifying for the state this year was still special after having done so for three years, both seniors did not hesitate to shake their heads affirmatively with a giant smile.
“Definitely special! Even though we have done Guard for so long, it is a different group of girls and a different feeling each time because you make a special bond with each group,” Alyssa explained. “The excitement for our new members who are qualifying for State for the first time makes it special for the veterans, too.”
For both seniors, Winter Guard has become a love affair.
“I love Guard because it gives me chance to express myself,” Mercadise explained. “I don’t say much, but I talk a lot through my dance and spins during a performance.”
“Guard is my life, especially during the competition season,” Alyssa said. “This is what I want to do as part of my life. I hope to join a top-level guard as I prepare to be a teacher. When I start teaching, I hope to have my own guard.”
Being the only two seniors and four-year veterans has created a special relationship.
“I think Alyssa and me have a very special friendship because we have been through so much together,” Mercadise said. “Our friendship gets us through everything. We started at the bottom together and have worked our way to co-captains.”
“When we were 8th graders, I convinced Mercadise to try out for Guard, and we have been best friends ever since,” Alyssa explained. “We have a special bond, and I feel like we have become big sisters to the other Guard members.”
As captains, Alyssa noted that one of their responsibilities is recruiting.
“Each year, we go to the middle schools and perform our routine, and then we have an opportunity to talk to the 8th graders,” Alyssa explained. “Yes, it is hard work, but we try to help them understand that Guard is a high school class. We work, but we have fun, too. We are so close because we have after-school parties and pool parties. We form a small family, and we treat each other like sisters.”
The senior duo did not hesitate to explain WORK had to be involved since a competition routine is approximately 5 minutes of non-stop movement as they are “spinning, jumping, leaping, throwing flags, spinning, throwing rifles, rolling on the floor, and spinning rifles.”
Alyssa and Mercadise agreed this year has been special because “the newbies have truly stepped up which has solidified a special bond through great team chemistry.”
“We have a great deal of respect for each other,” Alyssa explained. “We have not seen a lot of drama or tension among the Guard members this season. Our work ethic has definitely improved and that’s why we believe we can medal this year.”