Senior Makayla Bachman competes at a national level for Winter guard

Lauren Koscielniak, Writer

Winter guard is a combination of dance, color guard and competitive cheer, which does not include a marching band to perform in front of. Senior Makayla Bachman participates in Winter guard from November to mid-April at competitions with her team against others from around the globe.

“When I was in fifth grade, I went to an intramural program, at the time I went to Huron Valley schools,” Bachman said. “They were introducing it to children so they could grow their program. The only people that I’ve ever been with before were from Huron Valley, so I’d never met other people. Everything that Linden did was different. The way they taught things was different and the way that they learned things was different.”

Through her transfer from Huron Valley to Linden, Bachman has continued Winter guard the past seven years and wishes to continue.

“Since I started winter guard at such a young age,” Bachman said. “It has a lot to do with who I am today. It taught me how to be independent, but also taught me how to work as a team. It gave me confidence because it was the first thing that I actually enjoyed doing and was good at. I’ve met so many people throughout the seven years that I’ve participated. I’ve competed with two different teams, and have attended many competitions. I’ve made life long friends, and have met people from across the globe.”

Many parents enter their children into sports like soccer or basketball at a young age so the kids get a chance to be active. Sports like Winter guard may be considered “uncommon”, but contain a combination of several aspects from more conventional sports.

“The fact that it’s competitive is making it a sport,” Bachman said. “If you compare it to other things like cheer, then I definitely think it’s a sport. It involves a lot of things; you have to be coordinated with your hands and your feet and you have to be able to dance and think about so many things at the same time. I’ve learned how to dance, spin a flag and spin a rifle and not many people can say that.”

There are many people who do not consider dance, cheer or guard to be sports. However, Winter guard participants compete, dedicate time and work to achieve a common goal.

“We practice every Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Bachman said. “Our competitions are on Saturdays. Usually we have an eight hour practice on Friday nights and then we have practice before we leave for the competition on Saturday morning. During the week we have to record ‘homework videos’ that show we are practicing. There is nothing I would rather spend my time doing, and I even have plans to become a coach in the coming year in hopes that I can introduce this sport into others lives.”

Girls in Winter guard spend the majority of weekends rehearsing for these competitions; often leaving weekends with not much time to spare, similar to other competitive sporting events.

“Seeing how happy it makes everyone else, just performing and being there and seeing other teams perform too because even if you’re not getting first place, gold medal – which we did get gold last year. It just makes you feel good, it’s what we all love to do since we spend 12 hours every Saturday there practicing.”

Every minute spent practicing and going over details leads the team closer to their ultimate goal of optimism, no matter the turnout of the event.

“It allows me to express myself,” Bachman said. “Each year we have a new show, with a new story and concept. It’s so important to incorporate real and strong emotions into your show, and it’s nice to be able to perform and just let those emotions shine through. For example, our show this year is called ‘What brings you joy?’ and it focuses on the little things that make you happy, and how you should try to find joy in everything around you. The environment we create in our practices is one that causes us to feel joy, so when we perform it’s genuine.”

Winter guard takes emotion and determination to convey a message, which is the goal of the dance. Her team has progressed from small performances to facing large scale competitors at Worlds.

“This year my team is competing on the international scale and we are going to be attending world finals,” Bachman said. “Which is an experience in itself. There are 69 groups in our division. There are people from across the globe, we even have a group from China we are competing against at World Finals. There are a lot of groups from Michigan, all over the country, like Florida. When you’re performing it’s like all the hard work in 24-hour weekends of practice all pays off.”

Winter guard ended up being the perfect combination of dance, color guard and cheer for Bachman to want to compete for. She and her team will be put to the test this April in a global event to finish out her senior year.