Erin Shier held back tears as she prepared Saturday for her high school’s color guard performance.
Knowing that it would be one of her last shows, Shier, a senior at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills, wanted everything to be perfect.
“We have grown so much as a family. You become so close,” said Shier, 18, the team captain. “I’m ready to graduate, but it’s sad to say goodbye to color guard.”
Shier and hundreds of other dancers competed Saturday at the Southwestern Color Guard Championship at the University of North Texas Coliseum. More than 60 teams from across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana competed for a spot in the finals, which are Sunday.
During football season, color guards accompany the marching bands. But in the off-season, teams create intricate routines that weave together dance, music and theater.
Performances ranged from the whimsical, like A Few of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music to the serious, such as a piece about a mother receiving letters from her son during wartime.
Props are the only constant. Each team incorporates flags, mock rifles and sabers into its routine, frequently tossing them in the air and catching them.
Birdville selected a piece about rearranging life, accepting change and moving on, as dancers changed outfits and flag colors throughout the performance.
“This hits very close to home for a lot of us,” Shier said. “Life is always about rearranging. You just have to have a positive attitude.”
Stephanie Bonebrake, contest administrator, said color guard participation gives students an artistic outlet that even boosts other areas of life.
“This gives students focus,” Bonebrake said. “They have a reason to pass their classes and get good grades. They have a reason to excel.”
Autumn Childress, 18, and Rachel Holland, 17, seniors at Saginaw High School, said they joined color guard because they liked to dance. Soon, they realized it was much more than that.
“You are taking on a role, something new and different,” Childress said. “It’s exciting.”
Saginaw High performed a piece called In the Dead of the Night, about saying goodbye to loved ones. During the dance, each member thought of someone she had lost too soon.
The Mansfield High School color guard performed a piece to Dream a Little Dream, about a fun sleepover with friends.
Captain Christina Pham said the team began practicing in November and spent roughly eight hours a week perfecting the routine. After Saturday’s performance, Pham said the group felt good about its work.
“There are no tears,” she joked, “so that’s good.”
Member Jailin Samuels, 17, a senior, said the indoor competition has one big benefit: climate control.
“On the football field, we have to worry about the wind blowing everything away,” Samuels said. “But there’s no wind in here.”