What it’s like to be in the Spirit of Northwestern

By Kathleen Hilliard.

Performing in the Spirit of Northwestern is a privilege of mine, and an amazing experience. The Demon Heat Color Guard is an organization that I have dreamed about being a part of since my sophomore year of high school, when I first saw them perform at one of our competitions.

I joined my high school’s color guard my first year, and seeing how big and exciting the Spirit of Northwestern was encouraged me to work hard, so I could audition. This is now my fifth year of doing what I love. Many people only see the halftime performances, or one of the many exhibitions we do.

But behind every halftime show are hours of individual rehearsal, and long days preparing for competition. There are sectionals, where each individual section of the guard gets together and rehearses. We also practice on our own time, around school and homework. Practices involve learning entire shows in only a few days, along with occasional midnight and weekend rehearsals to fine-tune our performance.

We work tirelessly to memorize the counts in the music, and where every hand should be during every moment. The stereotype that we’re ‘just flinging a flag’ is far from reality. It may seem like a large amount of time to dedicate, and it is, but the feeling of marching on the light-flooded field with the applause of the audience is a second to none experience.

It’s such an empowering feeling seeing hard work and dedication pay off with a great performance or an awesome action shot. Colorguard is a sport that you go all out for, because you need strength, endurance and mental resilience to get a handle on your equipment. The flag and rifle are the two pieces of equipment that people see the most in our fall season.

Behind the scenes of “the best sounding band in the land” and the Demon Heat Colorguard is something that only its members can understand the depth of, and it’s worth every hot practice, long bus rides and aching muscle pains. We watch each other grow every day as performers and people. It’s more than just a sport or a job; it’s a family.

Photo by Hannah Pettus.

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