South Shore Drill Team members are coming home as World Champions after winning Winter Guard International A Class Finals at the University of Dayton Arena Friday night, April 8, 2011. The team competed against hundreds of groups from across the country and around the globe in Winter Guard. Known as the “sport of the arts,” color guard competition requires the stamina of athletes and the moves of professional dancers as competitors twirl wooden rifles, sabers, and flags.
Team members from Chicago’s Southside won despite tremendous challenges:
• One member was shot in mid-February and had to be replaced. He’s recovering nicely and wants to come back to the team.
• WGI requires specific lyrical moves, and South Shore Drill Team members were competing against other teenagers who had years of ballet and dance training.
• The team struggled to find funds to pay for costumes, equipment, entry fees, and gasoline to travel to competitions over the winter months. In March, Director Arthur Robertson made a special plea to Board members to help pay for meals for the youth. On their last day in Dayton, they ran out of funds.
Despite the high costs of competing, South Shore Drill Team uses WGI Competition to keep at-risk youth engaged over the winter months. Members traveled in the cold and snow to long rehearsals. South Shore Drill Team had two groups of young men and five girls competing, which is highly unusual because few color guard teams have enough members who can perform at competition level. Both units made it to Dayton, OH, although one was eliminated in the semi-finals.
When expected funding did not come through and a team member was shot in February, things looked grim, but then they began to look up. In March, the group received an in-kind contribution of fuel from Esquire Petroleum thanks to a team member’s aunt who works for the company. Sue Wagoner, a former professional dancer & dance studio owner who lives in Brookfield, IL, traveled to the Southside weekly to volunteer her time teaching dance to Drill Team members. Team members used stipends from After School Matters to pay for trips to competitions throughout the Midwest.
Those interested can donate to the group online at their website: southshoredrillteam.org. For more information or to interview team members, call (312) 401-9407.
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