After one female Bonita Vista High School winter guard team member broke the silence in Sweetwater High School’s dimly lit secondary gym by screaming “Who are we?” the entire team shouted in response: “that guard.”
The team then got in formation to run through their set, “Entrapped,” once more before the actual competition. Coach Jesus Vasquez, who was dressed in black skinny jeans, a black shirt, a black jacket, and black boots, hit play on his phone to begin the “intense and mysterious,” music on his portable black Ion speaker. Vasquez repeatedly reminded the performers to “use their technique” and to “be fierce.”
Walking with their collection of flags, rifles, and sabers to the campus’ main, larger gym, where the competition was being held, the team shouted their mantra again: “Who are we?” “That guard.” As senior co-captain Bianca Gomez later explained, “that guard” represents to them an extremely impressive and competitive team whom spectators never fail to talk about.
“When we say, ‘let’s be that guard,’ we mean: let’s have other people look at us that way,” Gomez said.
Approaching the main gym’s back doors, junior Andrea Garcia added, “I hope she’s already buying her nachos,” referring to the story of ‘nacho girl’.
“At one of our other competitions, this girl [in the audience] went to go get nachos when we came to perform. When she came back in after we were done, she was like, ‘I missed my favorite show.’ We were like, ‘nacho girl—we love you’,” Garcia said, explaining the story.
After a final pep-talk, BVH’s color guard and the team of parents entered the gym with equipment piled onto hand-trolleys and the performance tarp hoisted over their heads.
“The Winterguard Association of California is proud to present Bonita Vista High School,” the announcer said before their competition music began to play over the gym’s speaker system
BVH color guard’s score at the April 8 WGASC competition at SHS of 81.59 points was 3.61 points higher than their score at the Great Oaks High School competition of the previous day, and a record high for the team this season.
BVH finished second, only 0.46 points behind University City High School.
“They’re back. Our girls and boys are back,” parent Patricia Gomez cheered after the performance.
According to Vasquez, if the team had not incurred the 0.5 point penalty for going 15 seconds over the permitted amount of time to set up for their performance, BVH would have placed first.
“[At first] they seemed pretty bummed out,” Vasquez said. “But I always let the performers and parents know that the score, trophies, and placements are not as important as personal growth and becoming a better performer. If they were to have a really bad show and got a first place I would be upset that they didn’t show their true potential. But they had an amazing show, so I didn’t mind second place.”
During the climax of the show, all performers tossed a rifle with three rotations, ending with a ‘seven’ tossed by senior co-captain Diana Rodriguez—the most difficult section of the entire set to be executed without any rifles hitting the floor according to Vasquez. However, none of the performers ‘dropped,’ which has only occurred once before in competition this season.
When asked if their performance achieved “that guard” status, Gomez responded, “yes”, without hesitation.
“Going into today [we wanted] to fix everything that went wrong yesterday [at Great Oaks]. It wasn’t one of our best performances,” Gomez said. “After this performance and going into Champs the team feels a lot more comfortable, motivated, and confident in themselves.”
BVH winter guard’s final competition of the season will be at the Championship tournament at Edison High School in Irvine on April 21. After their competition at SHS, the team has a score that lands them in the top three in Southern California for the Scholastic AA division.
“We are at the top this season but more than getting medals and trophies my expectations have always been for the performers to enjoy themselves and to grow as much as they can as people,” Vasquez said. “Once they are there [at Champs] the competition doesn’t matter anymore. They will only focus on the people they are performing with and remember all the hard work they put into the show. That’s what this sport is about.”