Spinning, twirling, dancing and marching might bring initial thought of frivolous or childlike behavior to most. To the Oakdale Color Guard however, add in music, team coordination and it’s straight to business.
Now closing in on her 14th year as the Color Guard team coach, Danesa Menge could not be more pleased with the team and the performance they produce.
“It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come,” the teacher/coach said of her team. “So when they have a good run it makes me feel good, because they’re a reflection of us (the coaches).”
This year the team has had a bit of a ‘good run,’ earning Third Place honors early this year and a Fourth Place this past weekend. The Oakdale Junior High teacher is assisted by fellow coaches, Tammy Kumanchik and Jessica Morris.
Menge herself began her love of Color Guard at the age of 13, so she identifies with the team of 15 which includes students from Oakdale Junior High as well as Oakdale High School.
“I miss performing,” Menge stated, “so watching them is the most rewarding.”
Team members Taylor Nardello and Casey Calvin share their coaches’ love for the sport, citing it as something they each gravitated to their seventh grade year at OJHS. Nardello, currently a junior and Calvin, a sophomore shared they’ve become more than teammates via Color Guard, but are the best of friends.
“I like the friendships and the family we create,” Nardello said of the team, noting that she and Calvin have been inseparable since she joined the team her seventh grade year.
“It was fun from the start,” Calvin said of her first try at the team four years ago. “I like that not only is it physical and challenging, but it’s also really fun.”
Both young women agree that the general consensus of Color Guard being easy and not a sport, could not be more inaccurate.
“Then they try it and they’re proved wrong,” Calvin said of those who give it a go. “It’s definitely very challenging. You need strength and flexibility.”
“You have to connect with the people around you or it’s not going to work,” Nardello added. “If you’re having a problem with someone you have to fix it.”
Calvin noted timing as a critical element to the overall success of the team, be it marching with the OHS band or a group Winter Guard Performance.
Menge added that it’s a precision which can only come with practice and dedication. The team practices two to three hours three times a week, as well as an occasional weekend session, which can stretch for up to six hours of practice time.