Winter Guard International

Winter Guard International

Spawning from the organization Drum Corps International (DCI), Winter Guard International (WGI) was founded in 1977. WGI is a visual performing arts organization that hosts regional and national competitions for color guard (known as winter guard) and indoor percussion ensembles. Contests are held in the U.S. and Canada and WGI headquarters is located in Dayton, Ohio.

Six people were responsible for the birth of this performing arts organization in San Francisco: Don Angelica, Shirlee Whitcomb, Stanley Knaub, Bryan Johnston, Marie Czapinski, and Linda Chambers. Together they created the first division of WGI, the color guard division. The second division, indoor percussion, would not be established until 1992.

WGI was created as a competitive vehicle for the performing arts. The organization sets standardized rules and criteria, provides educational clinics and resources, and manages competitions on a regional, national, and international scale.

Mission Statement

"WGI Sport of the Arts exists to foster positive experiences for all who participate, by promoting education, creativity and freedom of expression through the unification of pageantry and the performing arts."

cholarship Opportunities

As a part of their commitment to education, WGI offers scholarships every year. One member from each color guard or percussion group, performing at the Championships, qualifies to apply. More than $200,000 has been awarded to WGI participants over the years. The scholarship money is collected through raffles, World Championship program sales, and donations. Recipients are announced at the end of the night at the World Championships.

Color Guard

The visual art form of color guard incorporates spinning flags, rifles, sabres, and other various pieces of equipment, while performing to a selection of music, classical to contemporary. Dance is also featured and integrated into the spinning. WGI began with only 30 participating color guards. Today, it has grown to over 400 guard and percussion groups.


At the conclusion of a competitive season that starts in January, guards and percussion ensembles come together to compete within their respective divisions at the WGI World Championships every April. To qualify for competition, both guard and percussion groups must perform in at least one WGI regional contest during the season. The World Championships are usually held in Dayton, Ohio, however, every few years Championships are temporarily relocated (2004 - San Diego, CA, 2001 - Milwaukee, WI, 1997 - Phoenix, AZ.)

Competition Classifications

WGI classifies color guards into two divisions: Scholastic and Independent. Scholastic guards are made up of members from the same high school. University guards are classified in Independent Class. Independent guards often do not associate themselves with any one school, university units being the exception.

WGI goes on to divide these two divisions even further into classes. There are three classes in each division: A Class, Open Class, and World Class. A Class is for beginner to intermediate level ensembles. Open Class is for those better than A Class, World Class is the highest, reserved for experienced and superior color guards. Independent World Class is the only class with no age restrictions. Performers in A and Open classes "age-out" at 22 years old, and can no longer compete in those classes after their twenty-third birthday, but may continue performing with the Independent World Class.

*Color Guard Scholastic A (CGSA)
*Color Guard Scholastic Open (CGSO)
*Color Guard Scholastic World (CGSW)
*Color Guard Independent A (CGIA)
*Color Guard Independent Open (CGIO)
*Color Guard Independent World (CGIW)

Indoor Percussion

In 1992, WGI oversaw the development of the second division, indoor percussion. Only six groups competed the first year, and that first year Clovis West High School from Fresno, California won the Championships. Indoor percussion ensembles perform a musical selection while also featuring marching drill patterns and tying in artistic visual effects.

In addition to regular instrumentation of the percussion section of a drum corps, instruments such as the drum set, and electric bass and keyboard are often used in the front ensemble but aren't marched. Narration is used much more than in Drum Corps as well.

Competition Classifications

Like the color guard division, indoor percussion saw such a rapid growth that there became a need for multiple classes. As of 1999, eight classes have been created to accommodate indoor percussion's rising popularity. The concert classes are designed for scholastic percussion ensembles who do not feature marching in their performance.

*Percussion Scholastic A (PSA)
*Percussion Scholastic Open (PSO)
*Percussion Scholastic World (PSW)
*Percussion Independent A (PIA)
*Percussion Independent Open (PIO)
*Percussion Independent World (PIW)
*Percussion Scholastic Concert Open (PSCO)
*Percussion Scholastic Concert World (PSCW)

List of World Class Champions

List of World Class Champions in different classes (* denotes tie)


Independent World Percussion medalists and finalists

Scholastic Concert World
*Claremont High School (2008)
*Ayala High School (2006, 2007)
*Fort Mill High School (2003, 2005)
*Franklin Central High School (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
*Gateway High School (1996, 1997)
*Baldwinsville High School (1994, 1995)

Scholastic Concert World Percussion medalists and finalists

External links

* [ Winter Guard International official website]

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