World Guard excels in their competitive season

SURE PLAYS A MEAN PINBALL: West Broward’s World Guard’s show theme is a tribute to the classic “Pinball Wizard” by Elton John; the routine consisting of real-life pinball machines, as well as many other props that pay homage to the uplifting beat and mood of the song. World Guard took first place with this routine at their Scholastic competition on Saturday, Feb 8.

    Alongside the other extracurricular activities and sports on campus, West Broward’s World Guard is just one of the many teams that have excelled greatly in their competitive season throughout the year. Coming off of a regional win and placing 4th at the World Championship last April, the team has made exceedingly high expectations for themselves and managed to deliver greatly to their audience. 

    Beginning their competitive season with a ‘Friends and Family’ on Jan. 18, World Guard continues to have monthly, if not weekly, competitions that stem all the way into early April. In their first two competitions- which took place on Jan.25 at Palm Beach Gardens Community High School and Feb. 8 at West Broward High School- they placed first in their Scholastic World category, still maintaining their ‘Fan favorites’ title. At both schools, they competed against two other teams.

    “Being a senior, this year is really all about making every single performance count,” said senior member Maya Bartley. “Whether we’re competing against two schools or ten, we really only have so many chances left to shine. I’m not afraid to say I want to win and I know we have what it takes to take it home for World Championships.”

A guard’s placement at World Class Finals is the last step to a superior title. World Championships consists of a preliminary round, a semi-final round, and the final round- which only 10 teams out of the entire competition can make it to. The preparation throughout the season stays in high gear, as they aim for a nationals title in Dayton, Ohio- which can place them at the top three in the nation. 

    “The world guard is probably one of the most competitive sports/activities at the school since we compete at a national level. Some weeks we can have practice every day until 9 p.m. and then still have to complete on Saturday. All of our Saturdays are booked for competitions and/or 12-8 camps,” said junior member Brelynn Jones. “The absolute best thing about world guard, despite all the lengthy practices and injuries, is performing. The crowd at Dayton is unbelievable and the feeling you get when you walk on and off the floor is unmatchable.”

    Much like how most sports at West Broward consists of a junior varsity and varsity team, World Guard has a similar recruiting process, except with their own spin on it. Joining color guard, which is the non-competitive performing team, is the first step into a potential spot at the ‘varsity’ level. The process for making world is a two-day audition set, which consists of choreography, skill-set, and months prior of the coaches reading and watching how their members develop.

    “The process of getting into world guard starts the very second you begin Color Guard. Over months they watch how you learn and mature over time. By the time for auditions, they already pretty much have an idea of who they want on the team from what you’ve done in previous seasons.” Jones said.

    In agreement with her teammate, junior member Summer Gornail shares how the recruitment portion of making the team can be intense and well prepared for due to the many months and seasons of practice, dedication, and learning. 

    “We learn a combination of dances, so the coaches can see where your strengths are in movement and routine. After that, we split up into groups for different equipment so the coaches can see what kind of equipment you excel in- flag, rifle, or sabre,” Gornail said. “I feel like having done so many shows and having so much experience with Color Guard has prepared me for being in world guard. A big part of why I am where I am right now is my coaches, they push me to be a better performer every day.”

    Once making the team, the real practice and commitment begins with the competitive season. The regional champions dedicate hours to rehearsing and hoping to improve their show little by little. Each show has its own theme. This year is Pinball Wizard, and the props, look, and choreography of the routine is all centered around bringing the story of that show to life for the audience and judges to see.

    “World guard practices about 30 hours a week, which doesn’t include the class time we have during 8th period. Our show is literally between 4 to 5 minutes, and involves a lot of intricate moves and parts to it,” said senior member and captain Jackie Pijuan. “Our floor is in the shape of a pinball and we use props such as actually scaffoldings, trampolines, and actual pinball machines! Our costumes and makeup are silver with hints of neon- it’s a lot of work and effort, but the end result when it’s all put together and executed is so worth it.”

    The long rehearsals, packed schedule and being surrounded by the same people all practice can leave you feeling tiresome and defeated. But it could not be any more of the opposite. According to Pijuan and Jones,  the environment and relationship of the team are both supportive and refreshing. Competition week practices may come with more tension and pressure than usual, but in all, the family dynamic trumps any and all difficulties.

 “We always push and support each other. We all have the same goal, which is to strive for the best and be the best. We have to sometimes check each other and make sure our priorities are straight, just because we are so passionate about what we’re doing,” Jones said. “But overall, we’re one big, weird family and our instructors are like our parents who are always there for us, whether it’s a guard problem or a personal one.”

    World guard comes with a lot of hard work, intuity, and strength. To be a member of the team, it’s not only about having the skill and experience; but also having the drive and passion to work for something that will take a lot out of you. With the hours of time and confidence put to the test, World guard has proven to be skilled at what they do and will continue to show just how passionate and talented they are. 

    “World guard taught me that you can endure a lot more than you think- whether it’s pushing yourself through long, painful practices or just developing the mental stamina that will allow you to get through everything,” Pijuan said. “You have to work hard in silence and let success be your noise. It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s most definitely worth it. Performing with my second family is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.”