Members of MU’s winter guard team warm up at their first rehearsal with the design coaches Nov. 23 in the gym of Battle High School. At this practice, members of Ionic Independent learned the theme of their show and started to block segments.
Zachary Barber, design coach for Ionic Independent, demonstrates his vision for its 2020 show during the first meeting Nov. 1 at Battle High School. On this day, members also learned that their show would be titled ‘The Artistry of Motif’ and follows the ideas of motifs and synchronicity in visuals, attitudes and routine. Barber discussed how he also wanted to follow the “motif” of the team where each year the show is something simple but unique to the team members of that season.
Members of the Ionic Independent winter guard stretch on their practice mat before picking up equipment Nov. 1 at Battle High School. This day, the routine, uniforms and other details were revealed. In the back, coach Christina Thalhuber’s daughter lay down to join the stretches. Before the kids’ bedtime, Thalhuber’s husband brought them to the school to see their mom and watch the guard.
Senior Jasmyne Tyler performs during a run-through of Ionic Independent’s show, ‘The Artistry of Motif,’ on Dec. 8 at Battle High School in Columbia. Tyler started spinning with Ionic three years ago, when the team was first formed at MU.
Erin Clay, MU freshman, braids Kiersten Hart's hair before Ionic Independent's practice Dec. 20 in the band room at Battle High School. One of the rules coach Christina Thalhuber has with the team is, "If you're early, you're on time and if you're on time, you're late." Members of the winter guard then arrive at the school early and hang out before their practice starts.
MU freshman members Erin and Alison Clay twirl ribbons with University of Central Missouri senior Taylor Broleman on Dec. 20 in the band room of Battle High School. Although Ionic Independent is part of MU, members of color guards around the area are allowed to audition and join the winter guard team as long as they meet the age requirements.
Rifles and gloves belonging to members of the Ionic Independent Winter Guard lie on the gym floor Dec. 8 at Battle High School. Winter guard is a sport of choreographed dance with different objects — mainly flags and rifles. MU's team started three years ago and was named after the style of columns that stand in Francis Quadrangle.
MU junior Miranda Van Norman stays in position after catching her 45-degree toss during Ionic Independent’s practice Dec. 20 in Battle High School’s gym. The team’s practice started at 6 p.m. and lasted until 2:30 the next morning. Van Norman also came to the practice in stage makeup for the design coach to see and critique before the team’s upcoming competition. The Mid Continent Color Guard Association competition will be held Jan. 25 at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles.
Stephens College freshman Lauren Buzzell returns to tendu, a ballet position, after applying a bandage Nov. 3 at Battle High School. Buzzell had been tossing a flag, which landed on her foot, breaking the skin. She quickly ran off to apply a bandage before returning to the floor to continue the practice without disturbing anyone. Part of being a team in the guard is rushing through mending injuries so that there is no chance of desynchronization. “We all have to be together” is a motto both the coaches and the teammates call out during practice.
Sneha Reddy, MU freshman, stands in position Dec. 8 before moving to her next spot during a run-through of Ionic Independent’s show in the Battle High School gym. Reddy, along with seven others, joined the rifle line in the winter guard and will spin both the weapon and flags throughout the show.
Starting in the winter of 2017, MU joined a new sport through the formation of the Ionic Independent winter guard team. On March 30, the guard finished fourth at the 2019 Mid Continent Color Guard Association Championship competition.
To prepare for the upcoming competition on Jan. 25, Missouri’s winter guard team began meeting in the middle of September. Weekend practices began in November, starting at 6 p.m. Fridays and continuing until 2:30 Saturday morning before resting for a few hours and getting back to work.
The team is not restricted to students at MU. Many students at schools in the area who want to compete in winter guard travel to Columbia to work with Ionic.
The work that members do at practice goes beyond counting and technique, though. “In color guard there are two types of skills: emotional and technical,” design coach Zachary Barber said. During its weekends together, the team works on honing these two aspects of performance.