The Page High School Winter Guard handily snagged a third-place finish at the Arizona Winter Guard State Championship in the Scholastic Regional A division in March. While an impressive feat on its own, what makes it downright jaw dropping is the fact that 11 members of the 13-person team, which encompasses students from both the Page high and middle school, had never spun a flag or chucked a rifle before August 2016.
Held in Gilbert, the Page squad put on a one-of-its kind performance choreographed, written and coordinated through a number of advocates and instructors, which included head coach Kristina Wunderlich and co-coach Gwen Lasslo. Schools in the same division spanned the whole gambit in terms of size and funding for their respective programs.
Wunderlich described the experience this year as “humbling,” saying she has been absolutely floored by the talent and drive of the team.
Team captain and Page High School senior Christina Osterink is the most seasoned member of the team, having served since moving to Page during her sophomore year.
When Osterink first came to Page and applied for the color guard program, she quickly realized she was the only active member. The program, she said, hadn’t been very active in previous years.
Despite flying solo, Osterink trucked on and marched along with the Page High marching band that season.
Wunderlich came on board later that year as head coach for both color guard and winter guard, and the duo helped grow the program to what it is now.
“It’s really rewarding when you work so hard for something and you get out what you put into it. It’s even better having so many girls who are now committed and love the sport,” Osterink said. “It’s very satisfying — I get to share that love and passion that I’ve developed with my teammates.”
The color guard program is listed as a fall sport and members march in tandem with the high school band. Winter guard, on the other hand, is a more fluid and dance-driven sport, utilizing choreography and melodies more than percussion. Page Middle School students are also able to be members of the team, unlike color guard.
Senior Sofia Vine was one of the 11 newcomers who picked up her first flag back in August for outdoor color guard, and immediately fell in love with the sport.
“Honestly, it has been a life-changing experience for me,” said Vine. “It’s one of those activities that teaches you not only the technical aspects of how to spin a flag or throw a rifle, but it teaches you discipline — how to handle the responsibility of being a team player. You have your own responsibilities, but you also have to be in tune with your teammates and have a deep connection with them like any other sport. It’s been a huge growing experience, especially as a senior.”
The outdoor color guard also took a first place caption award back in October 2016, while the marching band as a whole took sixth in their division. The caption award is given to color guard teams that give an exemplary performance despite the overall band’s placement.
Osterink and Vine said it’s bittersweet to be graduating and leaving their teammates behind, but hope the program continues on with its newfound vigor.