Winter guard brings ‘home’ big win

Scoring higher than 78 other high schools, winter guard wins first in state, record for MAC


Patrice Jones

The guard poses after they had finished their show and placed first for their competition, with the highest score in the state. “I knew we were going to do well,” director Jeff Rudy said. “I thought we had a really good chance of winning, but there is never any guarantee.”

Ellen Fox, staff reporter

At the Texas Color Guard Circuit Area West Championships in Pflugerville on March 23, the McCallum color guard swept away the competition, winning first place for the fourth competition in a row with the show entitled, “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road.”

The guard not only beat the competition in Pflugerville; it also posted the highest score in the state of the 79 schools that competed in the Scholastic Regional A division at all three of the regional area competitions statewide. Although it’s hard to compare across divisions because the standard varies, McCallum’s numerical score (92 points) was the highest of any guard competing.

The award-winning Wizard-of-Oz-themed show has collected more than a few gold bricks along the path to the most successful winter guard season in McCallum history.

“We’ve won all our shows, with the exception of our very first contest, but we also didn’t have our show completed and at that time, our uniforms or our floor done,” said senior co-captain Claire Rudy, who also happens to be director Rudy’s daughter. “I’m really proud of our group and getting to see how everyone pulled together in the end. It became a lot more about finding a deeper and more personal connection to the show, and it was amazing to see everyone bring their all and start fighting for how they wanted to be.”

Patrice Jones
At the end of the show, Dorothy, played by senior Claire Rudy, jumps into the Scarecrow‘s (senior Henry Stanford) arms before going home to her aunt (senior Emily Freeman). “What our instructor writes for us to perform really inspires the guard to have a show that means something to them,” said senior Claire Rudy.

There was no state competition for the guard’s competition category this year, so the area championship was the guard’s last chance to compete in 2019.

The morning of the area competition started with the drive to Hendrickson High School, followed by some warm-ups. Those interviewed said that the environment was lively due to of the excitement and nerves in the air. Before they could perform, guard members had to bring out their floor that they built at the beginning of the competition season. Jeff Rudy said he was confident in the guard’s abilities, but as the performance unfolded he understood he was witnessing something special.

“About halfway through the show, I knew that they were having a really good run,” Rudy said. “As it got closer and closer to the end, I thought, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do this.”

Director Rudy said the quality of the team’s performance could be seen in the judge’s scores. Each component of the performance is judged twice: first on the show’s concept and second on how well the guard executed the concept. McCallum’s execution scores were higher than the concept scores in all categories.

“If you listen to the equipment tape … at the end of it, there’s this real emotional scene where Claire says goodbye to the Scarecrow, then she runs over to Auntie Em; [we] added that character for last two weeks of the season,” Jeff Rudy said. “It’s real emotional. One of the judges was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to cry,’ and she did, and it was funny on that tape.”

The emotions of the show come from the theme, ‘Home.’ The instructors created a show that combined Sara Bareilles’ cover of the song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” originally by Elton John, and elements from the actual story of The Wizard of Oz.

The energy that we all put into this show has really paid off, and I knew no matter what our score was that it was the best show we could’ve had.

— Sydney Bunce

“If you listen to that song, we kind of did a twist on it,” Rudy said. “Originally when we had it, we were gonna go with these Dorothy costumes; they were gonna be brown, and everything was in earthy tones and subdued, because it fit the mood of the music better. However, then we had a problem with our uniform company, and we ended up not going with those uniforms, and we found these others that were actual Dorothy costumes.”

Along with the Dorothy costumes making up the bulk of the guard, there were two distinct characters: the scarecrow, played by senior Henry Stanford, and Auntie Em, played by Emily Freeman. Due to a shoulder injury earlier in the season, Freeman was unable to perform, but she still found a role in which she could lead the other members of the team.

“Not being able to perform was difficult, but it was interesting to still be a part of the show in a different way,” Freeman said.

Senior co-captain Sydney Bunce says that throughout all the awards, she has never lost sight of what matters most: her commitment to the color guard family: “I do it for the underclassmen,” Bunce said. “More than half of our team is made up of freshman and sophomores, and being able to help them learn and grow and see their faces when they announce our scores makes all the hard work and any of the frustration worth it.”

Bunce said that it has been rewarding to see the winter guard program evolve, and she feels that they truly were at their best during the area competition.

“[While we were waiting for the scores to be announced] I was thinking about how hard we’ve all worked to get where we are and how much the program has changed since my sophomore year when it started,” Bunce said. “The energy that we all put into this show has really paid off, and I knew no matter what our score was that it was the best show we could’ve had.”