Keeping the flag flying

Senior tackles new role as Color Guard captain amidst pandemic


Photo by Sarosh Ismail

Senior Anabel Sanchez stands outside the gym with her rifle. As one of the color guard captains, Sanchez has had to adapt to her role as a leader due to COVID. “It’s been difficult to adjust with covid rules, but just being around my team is what makes my experience better,” Sanchez said.

“One… two… three” the drum majors count down from a podium. The drums begin rolling, a symphony of instruments begin roaring and the choreographed color guard performance begins. Senior Anabel Sanchez went through this exuberating experience at every home game for football – that is until the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanchez’s year as color guard captain was supposed to be the most exciting yet, but instead, began by sitting behind a screen and listening to director Justin Sullivan on WebEx. 

Sanchez has been a member of color guard since her freshman year after deciding to try something new with several of her friends. Sanchez quickly came to love the synchronized choreography of flags, rifles, air blades and the thrills of Friday night football performances and competitions. Unlike years prior, Sanchez now has much more responsibility due to her position as one of the two color guard captains.

“When I first joined guard, I never could’ve imagined myself as a leader,” Sanchez said. “Toward the end of freshman year, I started to become interested and realized some of the past leaders gave guard a bad reputation or weren’t doing their job for the benefits of guard. I was determined to change that; when I received news of me being chosen as captain, I was both shocked and extremely excited.”

Sanchez said she always tries to set a good example and act as a role model for other students. She said she enjoys being able to help others improve and motivate themselves, but has also done a lot of learning and growing herself.

“Being color guard captain has been a rollercoaster,” Sanchez said. “I’ve had to learn to communicate better with others, as well as how to stay calm in different situations and see things from others’ point of view. Being a leader is a lot of responsibility and can be pretty stressful at times, but overall, it’s a lot of fun and I have created bonds with people I didn’t think I’d be close to.”

Sanchez said she is excited for competitions in November, but said the year started off rocky. Usual summer practices which would’ve lasted 8-10 hours a day were shortened to 2.5 hours and limited to 25 people per session due to COVID-19 restrictions. Despite having to put in extra time to work on techniques and basics when school began, Sanchez said the team has managed to come together, but still has room for improvement. 

“I think we are generally prepared work-wise, but everyone has to keep putting in their own effort for the whole team to succeed,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think we’ve had enough experience performing in front of people to where we would all be comfortable at competition, but if everyone keeps putting in work, we have the opportunity to be great. Overall, I think the entire guard can do a better job at working as a team and putting in time to work on choreography outside of practice.”

As color guard captain, Sanchez is constantly working with her section and other members in guard. Sophomore Haley Barret, who has known Sanchez for two years, said she is always looking for ways to help everyone improve. 

“[Anabel] has done a really good job as captain,” Barret said. “She’s managed to keep us pretty in-control when we need to be, but she’s also a really fun person to be around.”

Color guard director Justin Sullivan said one of the most important aspects of color guard is that it’s a team effort. He said Sanchez has always shown exemplary teamwork skills and shown herself a very capable captain.

“I’d say that Anabel has done a great job being a team player and working with her fellow captain and squad leaders to make sure all the behind the scenes tasks are completed and information is distributed swiftly,” color guard director Justin Sullivan said. “Being a leader is not a glamorous job and it’s about the work. Anabel has certainly put in the work.”