It’s not every day former rivals find themselves needing each other to compete. But that is exactly what happened when the Station Camp Winter Guard program couldn’t find a place to practice this year.
“Station Camp was at the point of almost canceling our winter season because we had no place reliable to practice all the time,” says mom Teresa Sudekum.
They solicited help on Facebook and soon a plan was formed. Hendersonville High School had stopped offering a winter guard team of their own, which affected participation at Beech High School. But if they combined team members and resources they could all compete together. The name was changed to Sumner County Winter Guard and rivals were suddenly teammates.
“Everything just kind of fell in place,” Sudekum says. The team is now seventeen members strong, and they practice ten to fifteen hours a week wherever they can. One day it is at the Beech Annex, another day at TW Hunter High School, some days at the Board of Education building. They even practice in hallways.
“We’re kind of like wandering gypsies, but whatever it takes to get these kids on the floor is what we’ll do,” Sudekum says.
Winter guard is a combination of indoor color guard, percussion and winds competitions. The Sumner County Winter Guard competes in the Southeastern Color Guard Circuit and also gets Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts world rankings. Station Camp had been ranked 35th in the world, but now with a new team it is like they are building their name up all over again.
“Before, when Station Camp would roll up to a competition, we would have people meet us at the door so excited,” Sudekum says. “So we’re having to present ourselves over again. They’re judging us on our technique, how clean our show is, is everybody flexed at the same time, are all seventeen of the flags tilted at a forty-five degree angle.”
On February 11th they won first place at the Winter at Summit competition at Summit High School in Thompson’s Station. Next up, a competition in Franklin.
“By the time we go to Franklin’s show most people should realize who we are, and the schools that we go against will start to understand this is somebody to reckon with,” she says.
Making it happen
The parents are a big part of the success of the students – Sudekum and her husband Tony are at every practice, loading up the trailer with equipment they also store in their garage.
“We had a group of Beech parents that don’t even have kids in winter guard who got together and did marathon sewing sessions at the library at TW Hunter so they have these amazing flags,” she says. “That was a community effort.”
Sudekum says keeping the team together was imperative for the parents because of how committed the students have been to the sport, and each other. And same goes for the parents too. One of the moms takes the team photos, and another mom who is a nurse travels with the team just in case. One mom handles makeup.
“These kids, they spend every Tuesday and Thursday until 9 o’clock at night together, helping do homework and making sure their makeup’s right, making sure nobody’s sick, that they’re eating well,” she says. “We have sleepovers and they really bond. My daughter and her three best friends are all guard kids. They’re over at each other’s houses all the time. We all come to depend on each other. Some of my closest friends are guard parents, just because we spend so much time together.”
It’s a positive group experience, with former rivals working toward a common goal that has only branched out into the rest if their school experience too.
“They’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders,” she says. “It’s a great group of kids. I love being around them, they’re really special. It’s nice to see them shine. We don’t care what color you are, we don’t care what sex you are, we don’t care what you prefer, we just want you to come, learn and enjoy and be part of this. They celebrate when they have good news, and they’ll cry with each other when they don’t.”