MT. VERNON –  Just a few weeks ago, Mt. Vernon Varsity Color Guard were the winner of the Wishmeyer Division and Overall Highest Score in Scholastic A Class.

Andre Williams has been the guard director for Mt. Vernon’s color guard for five years and has a dance company in Indianapolis – Relevations Dance Company.

Williams shared that the JV Color Guard also won fourth place in their division.

Williams said when designing and putting the performances together, he worked on the next four years, maneuvering through different ideas and making decisions based on where the color guard is on their trajectory and how they grow as a color guard.

Mt. Vernon Varsity Color Guard won their Winter Guard International Region in Knoxville, Tenn. and the State Championship in their division for the Indiana High School Color Guard Association (IHSCGA) Provided photo

The performance that secured Varsity Color Guard their titles was “Gravity,” with many different props, including a huge boulder prop that only one senior, Natalie Sparks, gets the opportunity to climb.

Williams said he picked the track for the performance – also called Gravity – after placing seventh in the nation last year.

Tyler Black, senior, has been involved in color guard for five years. Black said that preparation into their performance involves a lot of repetition and muscle memory, and when it comes time to perform – when the nerves kick in and his adrenaline is rushing – he doesn’t have to worry about anything else.

Sparks agreed and added it’s important to have consistency and work on building techniques throughout the season.

“Looking back on where you first started and the end throughout the season, it’s more personal growth, and then overall growth with everyone in the whole team,” Sparks said.

Sparks said that when performing in Knoxville, it was fun to have a different environment and somewhat emotionally overwhelming from the multiple compliments they received from the other teams competing.

Black said that while there were some nerves, it was also fun and exciting to be able to walk into a show site where no one really knew each other, getting the opportunity to meet new people and see the different shows that were performed.

Mt. Vernon Varsity Color Guard won their Winter Guard International Region in Knoxville, Tenn. and the State Championship in their division for the Indiana High School Color Guard Association (IHSCGA) Provided photo

Black and Sparks both agreed that one of their favorite parts of the show is when they perform a saber five, which is when the saber spins five times in the air and they walk down to catch it.

Black said with this part of the performance, his prop is located next to the parents who help volunteer – including his father – and Black likes to see the reaction from the parents on the sides supporting as well as the crowd.

“To see their progressive growth year upon year and for the team to have such great success this year is a testament to their dedication, the coaching and direction they receive and to the teams’ exceptional skill,” said Black’s father, Marty.

Being both captains and seniors, this will be Black and Sparks last year being in the school’s color guard program.

Sparks said it’s a bittersweet feeling and that a goal of hers for the final year was to form a stronger connection and bond with the team, putting in hours of hard effort to have a good outcome. Sparks said that color guard was a great opportunity to have fun, meet others and get to know oneself better as well.

Black agreed and said he would miss the connections and environment.

“It’s definitely bittersweet, but if there was a year that I’d have to leave, I’d say this is a pretty good one just because it’s been a good time with how much we’ve all grown and how well we’re doing this season,” Black said.

Williams said this is his first round of seniors since he started directing the program, with four seniors in total.

Williams said while Black and Sparks say it’s bittersweet, he’s been happy with the growth of Black, Sparks and the program overall.

“They are, kind of, the embodiment of what we decided five years ago of what this program was going to look like five years from now,” Williams said. “To see all of that completely come to fruition the way that we planned, it’ going to be a special moment.”

As far as after high school, Black and Sparks are considering continuing their color guard journey once getting adjusted to college life and seeing what their future plans hold.

“They just work really hard, and you guys are incredibly smart, and you can do amazing things, as we see before us,” said Williams to Black and Sparks.

For now, Black, Sparks and the rest of the team are continuing their practices, getting ready for the WGI Nationals on April 11-12 in Dayton, Ohio.