The winter guard team wins states with a show about being affected by cancer
Brynn Perron ’18
Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2018
For the second year in a row, the Elysian Winterguard team, which is largely made up of South Lake High School students, has won the Michigan Color Guard Circuit State Championship.
Their performance was very unique in its subject matter. In fact, it was so moving that it made audience members cry.
“This year our show was about cancer, and how it affects entire families, and how everyone needs someone to ‘Love Them Through It.’ It was about the struggles that some people have to go through,” says Elysian coach Brandy Blatz.
The winterguard tackled the emotional subject of cancer due to the impact this disease has had on the loved ones of team members and coaches of Elysian. The idea for a show about the struggles of cancer came from one of their coaches, Chris Hebbard, whose mother was diagnosed with it.
“His mother was diagnosed 10 years ago with breast cancer, so I spun the breast cancer flag that said ‘mother’ in honor of her. Thankfully she’s in remission and everything is good, but I spun it in honor of her, which was incredible,” says senior Lauren Maletski.
The show was not only in honor of Hebbard’s’ mother, but all people who have had to struggle with cancer, and the families affected by it. The team made the show more personal to each winterguard girl by adding ribbons to their flags on which there were the names of people that they knew who had cancer.
“Our feature silks had colored ribbons, and something like ‘mother’ or ‘father’ on them, and each of those things related to somebody on the team or the coaches. Some of those people came out to the performances, and we held their pictures up at the end, and it made it very emotional,” says senior Kristen Berger.
However, making the show took an emotional toll on the team.
“It is an emotionally draining topic, and by the end of the season, we were all drained, because it was like, every time we would perform, people would cry. So it’s hard to be able to do that,” says Maletski.
The audiences were also affected by this deeply emotional topic. Many people have been hurt by cancer, so many people in the audience had a connection to the topic as well.
“The audience was all crying; they were all in tears,” says senior Makayla Gricius. “This year, the show really moved the audience. It really moved the judges too,” adds Gricius.
Audience members would even come up to the team to compliment their performance, and share their own stories of how they were affected by cancer.
“We had strangers coming up to us everywhere we went to say thanks and share some tears as to why this show touched them,” says Blatz. “There were many performances where there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and that meant a lot to the kids to see how they could convey such a strong and emotional show.”
The show was moving to one audience member in particular, who came up to the girls after the show to tell them about her cancer story. She told them how she was in remission, and thanked Elysian for portraying the topic.
“She came up to us after the show and said thank you for telling her story, and everything that happened to her. Everyone started crying,” says Maletski.
All the emotion in the show was for a purpose, and the girls were able to get that across in their performance, which contributed to their win. The show was meaningful to both the team and the audiences who watched it, which made it a very special performance that was even bigger than just a routine.
“By the end of the season, these kids truly understood what we were trying to accomplish and it was so touching to watch,” says Blatz. “The kids took ownership and really wanted to do well, not only for themselves and the gold medal, but because of what this show meant to so many people.”
Berger agrees with this, and thinks that the very impactful topic made the girls work harder to do well. She says they had intensive practices four days a week in addition to competitions to make the best show they could.
“The fact that all of the hard work, and the blood, sweat, and tears, pai
d off and we won was amazing,” says Maletski.
The team was absolutely thrilled to win states. Not only did they put on a technically sound performance, but they also conveyed a lot of emotion, and sent a message with their show. Elysian also made their coaches proud with their outstanding dedication and talent.
“I just want to say how proud of I am of these ladies. They seriously worked their butts off for us and have become like a second family,” says Blatz.
The team put on a spectacular performance to win states this year. This is especially impressive since the team has not been around for a long time.
Elysian Winterguard started off as one of the worst teams in their division, getting 23rd out of 25 teams four years ago, but quickly improved. Then, at the beginning of this season, the team was so impressive that they were moved up to a more competitive division, making their win all the more incredible.
“It felt amazing to win, because we got bumped up to a higher division and we didn’t think we were going to get first,” says senior Lauren Maletski.
Overall, Elysian accomplished what they set out to do: win states, and tell the story of all those whose lives have been touched by cancer.