Mansfield Patch's Whiz Kids of the Week

Meet the Mansfield winter guard team.

The football, track and basketball teams are highly publicized in Mansfield. They work hard and it shows on the scoreboard. They deserve every bit of the recognition they receive. There is one team, however, that works just as hard and does well but gets little to no recognition in the community.

The Mansfield color guard team is tough, dedicated and competitive.

“I have never seen a team as dedicated as these girls,” Coach Tommy Lee praised. “They know when it’s time to work and when it’s time to have fun.”

The competition season is eight weeks from the beginning of February to the beginning of April, but the team starts practicing much earlier. Fall guard starts in August and winter guard starts around November. The team has a rigorous practice schedule that begins with at least 45 minutes of stretching before they move on to equipment basics. They meet four times a week, including one all day practice Sundays, totaling almost 13 hours each week.

The team took part in the Winter Guard International (WGI) regional competition on Feb. 12 in Salem. They finished sixth of seven teams in the Scholastic A class.

“There are different classes based on your experience and we felt as though they would be competitive so we moved them up a class to compete in the Scholastic A,” Lee said. “They did really well as far as we’re concerned.”

The 11 girls on the team and the two coaches, Lee and Kerri Wallace are all doing what they love. Wallace marched for 10 years before becoming a coach, which she has done with Lee, her former coach for the last two years. Lee has been coaching for 30 years. There is no doubt that they are all passionate about what they do, but they tend to feel slighted at times.

“People usually think that all color guard does is we march at the field shows for football games and we do parades,” said freshman Sonya McCree, “but they don’t really see that we do a lot more than that.”

There are misconceptions when it comes to color guard and the team does not often get the chance to defend themselves. WGI calls it a sport of the arts and it is in fact a sport. The team wants people to understand that it is not just a frilly, girly activity. It can be very intense.

“So far we have a fractured finger, a sprained ankle, a torn ligament and a consistent bleeder,” said Lee, jokingly. “Regardless of the pain and how tired they are, they never complain, they come to practice and they work through the pain.”

Despite the injuries and false impressions, the Mansfield High color guard team will never stop putting their all into what they do.

“A lot of people don’t think that we work as hard as the football players and stuff like that, but we have long practices and it’s a lot of hard work,” said freshman Erika Leuchte.

The team deserves credit for all the effort they put into their practices, competitions and becoming better as a whole.

“It’s a lot of fun because it pays off when you compete,” freshman Kristen Wholley explained.

Though it is currently an all girl team, boys are allowed to join. Lee is always taking fall and winter guard registrations for students in grades 7-12. They are hoping to start a JV team so the students in the middle school will acquire more skill before they are on a team with the more experienced high school students. To contact Lee about registering, email him at tlsg@comcast.net.



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