Photo By: PHOTOS BY ELLIE VAN HOUTTE/TOWN CRIER
Andrew McCormick is easy to spot on the grassy practice field at Mountain View High School. The junior is tall and slender – and the only male member of the school’s color guard squad for the 2012-2013 school year.
“It can be challenging,” said McCormick of being the only guy on the team. “Sometimes I have to watch what I say.”
But the disproportional ratio of 30 girls to one boy doesn’t bother him, and female color guard members pay little notice of him during team practices.
Color guard combines visual elements – such as dance and flag spinning – to complement the school’s marching band. With experience playing the alto sax and more than 12 years of dance lessons, joining the color guard as a freshman seemed like a natural fit.
“It was more fun than being in the band, and I didn’t want to memorize music,” McCormick joked.
His commitment to the activity is strong, despite a time commitment averaging 13-20 hours per week and weekend road trips to competitions during color guard and winter guard seasons.
Diane Corbett Esparaza, the team’s captain head, called color guard the “most well-known unknown” activity. It’s not a secret society anymore, she said, as the group has grown in popularity and prestige during the four years she has coached the team at Mountain View High.
“Color guard is not all about learning to spin equipment, but also about telling stories through the body,” she said.
Spectators in the stands at a football game may not recognize the hard work that goes into being a member of a color guard team – it fosters a strong work ethic and skills that carry color guard graduates far in life.
McCormick said he almost quit color guard after his first three weeks, as he struggled to learn flag tossing, but he kept practicing and eventually mastered the skill. Color guard reinforced the virtue of not giving up on something that doesn’t come easily.
With months of practice behind them, the Mountain View High Color Guard team earned the Silver Award at the California Color Guard Circuit Competition and first place at last year’s Cupertino Band Review.
McCormick isn’t resting on his squad’s laurels, however – he’s more concerned with how the team’s rendition of “Les Misérables” will come together for the Community Thank You show Oct. 6. He said he’s especially excited to perform to the song “One Day More,” a tribute to a classmate who has struggled with bone cancer.