Winter guard

Winter guard

Winterguard is an indoor colorguard activity, derived from the outdoor summer activity that is commonly part of marching band or drum corps. Unlike colorguard, which performs outdoors on a football field or parade route (and is part of a marching band or drum corps), winterguard is performed indoors, usually in a gym or indoor arena, during the winter season. Also, there is no band involved. Guards perform to a recording of various musical genres. A winter guard unit performs using dance, acrobatic features, and most of all, with various pieces of equipment. While guard equipment can vary from anything to everything, flags, rifles, and sabres are the main pieces of equipment. Guard members toss, spin, and do much more with their equipment, which can change throughout their show. Major competitions worldwide are sanctioned and managed by Winter Guard International.

Winter Guard International

Winter Guard International (WGI), founded in 1977, is a non-profit organization that functions as the governing body of the winter guard and winter percussion activities. Frequently associated with WGI is the phrase "Sport of the Arts", a phrase which most guard members know to be very true about winterguard. WGI describes winterguard and winter percussion, saying "it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format." Now entering its 32nd year, the sport is evolving and growing, with over 11,000 participants at the Sport of the Arts World Championships this past April.

Though WGI national competitions are held in Dayton, Ohio annually (though occasionally they will temporarily be held elsewhere, see Winter Guard International), the WGI staff, boards, and steering committees work throughout the year to help perpetuate the color guard and percussion program. They authorize official WGI-sanctioned regional competitions that are used as qualifier competitions to be accepted to compete at WGI World Championships (Nationals) later in that current winter guard season.

Divisions and Classes

Not every colorguard has the same skill level, population, or resources available, and judging them against all the other guards of different levels and abilities would be unfair. WGI uses a class division system to help remedy this. There are two divisions, Scholastic and Independent. There are also classes (in descending order): Independent World Class, Independent Open Class, Independent A Class, Scholastic World, Scholastic Open,Scholastic Class A,Scholastic Class AA, Scholastic Class AAA, Class B, Cadet Class, and Cadet Novice Class. On occasion there will be an Exhibition class.

Guards can choose to move to a higher class; although they cannot move down a class unless they either become inactive for certain period of time, or by review of WGI. For every competition, there is a score selected for each class, and if a guard within that class scores at or above it they are automatically "bumped" to the next level of competition (even mid-season). Though guards can appeal this if they are just over the "bumping" score, but often it will not go through.


The Scholastic division is made up of guards that have members that all attend the same high school or a feeder school of that high school. There are many colleges and universities that sponsor their own winter guards as well, but these guards typically compete as Independent guards. Scholastic guards vary greatly in their ability and resources because they are much more dependent on support from outside of the members themselves (such as their school's band and the funds they receive).

In the Scholastic division, there are three classes: Scholastic A, Scholastic Open and Scholastic World (note: more divisions may exist at the local/regional level, such as Regional A, Scholastic AA or AAA or Novice; in many places there is also a middle school class, often called Cadet). Scholastic A guards tend to be a step above the regional level and are the lowest level to compete in WGI. These guards are still top level guard, but they may not be quite up to the next level's requirements. Scholastic Open guards are an effective intermediate level for competition. Scholastic World level guards are the winter guards that can consistently perform very high caliber performances.


The Independent division is made up of guards that do not associate themselves with a school (the exception being university units). Additionally, these kind of guards can be much more selective of their members, choosing to be gender-specific or to only have certain numbers of people.

In the Independent division, much like the Scholastic division, there are the three classes: Independent A, Independent Open and Independent World. The breakdown of skill level and placement mirrors that of the Scholastic division. Members of Independent A and Independent Open guards "age out" after their 22rd birthday, meaning guard members whose 22rd birthdays fall after March 31st of a given year may perform that season. Afterwards, they are too old to compete. Independent World guards may compete with members of any age.

Winterguard Circuits

Although the goal of many Winterguards is to compete in the WGI World Championships, most guard competition takes place in regional Winterguard circuits. These circuits are loosely organized and may or may not be formally affiliated with WGI. In many cases the circuits may predate WGI by many years; for example, the Midwest Color Guard Circuit celebrated their 50th Anniversary Season in 2007 [ [ MidWest Color Guard Circuit ] ] . They may also have different competitive structures with additional classes to those in WGI. Circuit classes often will include beginner or novice guards such as Cadet, Novice, B, Regional AA and Regional A. Circuits generally score using WGI standards and judges whether they are formally affiliated with WGI or not.

In addition, the Winterguard activity is growing internationally as well. In Europe CGN - Colorguard Nederland (Netherlands), and WGUK - Winter Guard UK (United Kingdom) have recently joined together with groups from France and Germany to form the European Indoor Arts Alliance (EIAA) with hope to create an EU-wide platform for the growth of the colorguard activity in Europe, where the Scholastic branch of the activity does not exist.


* [ Midwest Colorguard Circuit]

External links

* [ Winter Guard International (WGI) official website]
* [ Florida Federation of Colorguards Circuit (FFCC) official website]
* [ Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC) official website]
* [ CGN - Colorguard Nederland]
* [ WGUK - Winter Guard UK]
* [ Patriots Winterguard official website]
* [ Gates Chili Colorguard official website]
* [ Colorguard Historical Society (CGHS) website]

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