by Peter Bodley
Coon Rapids High School’s 2012 winterguard winter classic show Saturday evening was very much a family affair for the Davis family.
Chris and Teresa Davis of Coon Rapids had four of their daughters taking part in the event, but not all for the same teams.
Michelle Davis is a member of the Minnesota Brass Indoor, Rachel Davis competes with the St. Cloud Eclipse Winter Guard, while Cortney and Lynsey Davis are members of the Coon Rapids High School winterguard squad.
Indeed, the Davis family has been involved with the marching band, colorguard and winterguard programs at the high school for many years.
Michelle, who graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 2007 and from the University of Minnesota in 2011 with a degree in elementary education, has been taking part in winterguard for eight years.
Now a graduate student and a student teacher, Michelle got her start in winterguard as a 10th grader at Coon Rapids High School.
Her older sister, who was then in the school’s winterguard, encouraged her to join the program, Michelle said.
“I gave it a try and really liked it,” she said.
Since graduating from CRHS, Michelle has been part of the Minnesota Brass Indoor (MBI) winterguard program every year, except for one when MBI dropped winterguard, according to Michelle.
Michelle competed for another winterguard group that winter, but rejoined MBI when it resurrected the program the next year, she said.
But this will be Michelle’s last year in winterguard, having reached the age limit of 22, Michelle said.
However, MBI offers a summer program where there is no age limit and Michelle is thinking about joining, she said.
“There are 40-year-olds in that group,” Michelle said.
In addition to winterguard, Michelle was a member of the colorguard units of Coon Rapids High School and then the University of Minnesota marching bands.
Michelle likes the “sense of family” that the winterguard program provides as well as its “challenges,” she said.
“Winterguard teaches you life skills,” Michelle said.
In winterguard, colorguard units perform to music with rifles and swords.
They are judged on both individual and ensemble performance as well general effect and timing and elements.
Units have seven to 10 minutes to perform, but that includes set up, entrance, performance, exit and prop and equipment usage.
That means that the performance itself will generally run five minutes because set up and take down uses up some of the allotted time, according to Michelle and Rachel.
In addition, each performance must have three to three and a half minutes of equipment usage.
The music to which the winterguard units perform comes in a variety of styles and it can be either a vocal or instrumental piece, Michelle said.
Michelle prefers modern music for the performance, so does Rachel.
Rachel graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 2010 and spent five years in winterguard, starting while she was in middle school, as well as the high school marching band’s colorguard unit.
She got involved in both band colorguard and winterguard because of her sister, Michelle’s, participation, Rachel said.
Now a sophomore at St. Cloud State University, where she is majoring in social work, Rachel spent last year with MBI, but moved to the St. Cloud Eclipse team for this winterguard season.
One reason was it was easier to get to practices in St. Cloud where she is going to college, Rachel said.
“The Eclipse also needed more members,” she said.
Like her sister, Rachel said she finds the winterguard program challenging and also an opportunity to “meet new people.”
Practice time is more limited for Michelle and Rachel because of college studies. It mainly takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Rachel said.
“Winterguard takes a lot of practice,” she said.
Cortney and Lynsey have continued the Davis family tradition in both the marching band and winterguard programs at the high school.
“We have followed in our sisters’ footsteps,” Cortney said.
While Cortney is a senior, Lynsey is a freshman at CRHS.
Indeed, Cortney, who has been in both fall colorguard and winterguard for six seasons, has been captain of both squads the past two years.
She plans to attend the University of Minnesota next fall – her major is undecided – and join the flag and weapon line on the Gopher Marching Band.
The winterguard season begins in November following the end of the fall colorguard season, according to Cortney.
The competitive season for the high school teams began at the beginning of February and runs through March, Cortney said.
Practice takes place after school two days a week and all-day on Saturday, she said.
“There is a lot of precision involved in the performance and that takes a lot of practice,” Cortney said.
The 2012 CRHS winterguard show is titled “In the Shadows,” performed to “Cathedrals” by Jump, Little Children.
According to Cortney, the music is contemporary, rather than modern, and challenging.
“Cathedrals” was released as a single in 1998 by Jump, Little Children, a group that later became simply Jump. It was formed in 1991 and disbanded in 2005.
In three competitions to date this season, the CRHS winterguard squad, which numbers 16 and includes two middle-schoolers, has placed second twice.
When it competed in the Winter Guard International (WGI) regional competition in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 28, CRHS placed ninth out of 28 entries.
After two months of practice, the team is comfortable with the program and the performance has been “going well,” Cortney said.
The final event of the season is March 31 when the Northstar Circuit Championship take place at Osseo High School.
That will involve teams from all over Minnesota, Cortney said.
Her involvement in winterguard has enabled her to make new friends, according to Lynsey.
“I also find it challenging,” Lynsey said.
While the MBI and Eclipse squads were in competition at the Coon Rapids High School show, as the host team, the CRHS winterguard put on an exhibition, as well as the Coon Rapids High School winter drumline team, which is also involved in competition.
Other schools competition in the CRHS show were River Valley, Eden Prairie, Osseo, Rocori, Sauk Rapids and Irondale.
According to the Winter Guard International (WGI) website, there are some 10,000 young people taking part in units in the United States, Canada, Japan and Western Europe.
WGI was formed in 1977 to bring together the growing winter colorguard activity, standardize rules and provide leadership and guidance.
The Northstar Circuit of Colorguards was formed back in 1962.
It is a nonprofit organization that guides the competitive development of the winter guard activity throughout Minnesota and neighboring states, according to its website.
Peter Bodley is at email@example.com