MHS Winterguard Prepare for the WGI Competition

Kanako Yonashiro

     Winter Guard International (WGI) announced the cancellation of in-person events, and all the championship events will be held virtually. The Mililani High School (MHS) Winterguard have been preparing for their competition for this virtual 2021 season.

     “My favorite thing is probably just like the energy we have at practice. It’s just really nice to be able to connect with people and be working on the same thing and just like collaborate with each other but just make this one thing happen,” said Winterguard Captain Junior Paige Thomas. 

     Winterguard, also referred to as indoor guard, is a group that performs choreographed dances with equipment such as flags and rifles. It is part of the marching ensembles at Mililani High School, and their routines are made based on the interpretation of the music that is played by the marching band. Specifically, the Winterguard is the group that provides visual aspects for the marching band performances. 

     Usually, the MHS Winterguard competes in both local and national competitions every year. However, this year, because the majority of the competitions were either canceled or held virtually, the MHS Winterguard only plans on attending the WGI competition. 

     This competition primarily involves groups from the United States, but it also has groups from Asia and the United Kingdom. Although the competition is usually held at Dayton, Ohio at the University of Dayton, participants will not be traveling this year to compete. Instead, they were prompted to record their performances and submit it to their streaming service called FloMarching.

     One benefit that the MHS Winterguard has from competing in this virtually is that they will be able to participate in the preliminary competition four times. This provides a chance for the students to practice performing frequently, since they haven’t for a while. “Prelims is just a one time thing and then you move on or you don’t, so this will give them an opportunity to perform more than they actually would,” said marching band director Derek Kaapana.

     Despite the fact that they are practicing the usual amount, which is three times a week, they have been using a hybrid system this season. This means that they have some students come to practice in-person, while the other half attends the practice virtually, and then have them rotate. Typically, the goals of the practices is to better train the student and improve on developing their skills, and the competitions are used to help drive students’ motivation. However this year, the focus has shifted to the competitions. 

     “Normally, the competition is just this thing that we work towards, but I feel like this year it is more about the competition,” said Winterguard member Junior Anthony Tom. “We don’t know if we are able to do a regular season next year so like if we were to focus on skills, some people would probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much since it may seem like their skills are going into nothing and not be able to do it.”

     Because students in the Winterguard have to attend some practices virtually, some of the main challenges that Thomas has noticed, especially with students that are new to Winterguard this season, was that some struggle to learn how to do new skills on their own. Kaapana believes that the difficulty is not necessarily trying to teach the students virtually, but it is instead the students trying to get used to being around people. 

     “We still distance everybody, and you can kind of see it on the students’ faces that they’re a little apprehensive of like talking to each other or they haven’t been used to being in social situations for a long time, so that’s a challenge in itself,” said Kaapana. 

     While most students in Winterguard find the most enjoyable aspect to be able to work with their friends, Kaapana believes seeing what students are capable of doing to be the most rewarding. “Even though we’re teaching them and we’re training, it’s always amazing to see what the students do in person and it makes me proud of not what I do but what the students are doing,” said Kaapana. 

     For those who want to receive news or updates about the WGI competition, visit their official website at