By Dana Delgado
The Liberty Hill High School Color Guard could well have called this first year venture into competition as a learning experience.
The group is small in numbers and relatively inexperienced with no member having more than two years of experience. They are young by color guard standards and novices to competition. They are operating with limited resources for show props or decorations making it a bare bones operation hinging primarily on talent and effort.
All the reasons were there to just lay a foundation for next year and for years to follow, but that has not been the case. Besides testing the competitive waters for teams to come they are creating waves around the region with stellar performances.
“The girls don’t know how good they are,” said Band Director John Perrin. “They’ve been exceeding all our expectations.”
So far, the color guard has competed in three contests and walked away with trophies each time. Three straight third place finishes at Leander, Cedar Park and San Marcos are a testament to the members’ dedication.
“It’s been very challenging,” said Color Guard Captain Makayla Allman, a sophomore. “It’s been a lot of work, but we felt we were going to do well. We just didn’t know what to expect, but our expectation is to do our best.”
Miss Allman says she is extremely proud of each of the members that includes three juniors, two sophomores, and five freshmen. The junior members are Kristina Kelley, Samantha Webb and Alyssa Pierce. Captain Allman and Gisell Salazar are the sophomores participating. Freshmen squad members include Sarah Roberts, Abby Roberts, Meredith White, Kailee Lloyd and Madie Cochran.
The squad practices daily from 7-8:50 a.m. and for the first time are being led by an experienced director, Jesse Arbolay, who has a degree in dance and has experience working with color guards in San Antonio and the Austin area.
“We’re in a different place than a lot of programs,” said Arbolay. “We got a later start than most programs but we’ve really progressed. There’s so much potential. Yes, we placed in our competitions, but I keep challenging them to work for more.”
“It’s been a whole new experience for us but we are loving it and getting more confident,” said Miss Allman. “We want to give a big thanks to our parents who drive us to practice and competitions, buy our equipment, and cheer us on no matter what. We also want to say thank you to Mr. Perrin and Mr. Arbolay, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without their help and support.”
Every morning, Arbolay guides them through their routines with a recurring “5, 6, and 5, 6, 7, 8” and checking all along for precision, turns, steps and finesse. He says he’s never had a group so eager to learn.
“They’re really good kids,” he said. “Teaching them has been easy because they are so very welcoming.”
The LHHS Color Guard’s next competition is at Bowie High School in Austin on March 1. The team then travels to San Antonio O’Connor High School on March 8. The guard completes the season at Pflugerville’s Hendrickson High School on March 22. The state championships are scheduled for March 29-40 in Bryan-College Station. Additional information on the upcoming events as well as past events are available online at www.texascolorguardcircuit.org.
So goes the color guard, goes the band says Perrin.
“A strong color guard will help advance the band to state competition so we want to pull out all the stops to build the program,” said Perrin. “We will be out recruiting at the junior high school towards the end of the year to continue to grow the color guard.”