Agata Soltys and the Color Guard Community

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Agata Soltys and the Color Guard Community

Agata Soltys posing with her flag.

Agata Soltys posing with her flag.

Agata Soltys posing with her flag.

Agata Soltys posing with her flag.

By Adisa Ozegovic, Staff Writer

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While the uniformed band members begin their marching routine, sophomore Agata Soltys and the remaining four members of color guard raise their heavy, silk flags. Soltys’s purple-and-blue-striped flag is whirled around her and twirled on its axis, as she focuses on marching in tune with the appropriate beats and other flags. All at once, her flag is sent rippling high up into the air. She smoothly catches it as it returns, not missing a single beat, and diving straight back into her routine.

Soltys had never heard of color guard or had ever really seen a marching band performance until she stumbled across her friends’ posts on social media documenting all of their achievements within the sport. After a few searches online, she was stunned and immediately e-mailed the band director, Justin Johnson, about becoming a member the following year.

“When I entered as a freshman to Niles West, I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to do,” Soltys said. “I did try a few things, but I was really just observing and taking in my surroundings. I never went to a football game freshman year, but I was checking my Snapchat and Instagram and seeing all of these posts about my friends from my percussion class. They were traveling and doing these amazing things. They were winning first place awards and all of these titles. I was like, ‘Wow, I want to do that.’ I didn’t even know that color guard existed.

Members of color guard do essentially the same things as regular marching band, minus the instruments. Practices are three to four times a week, sometimes in 90-degree weather. Just like other marching band members, color guard has to memorize their proper positioning on the field and the timely manner of marching. However, they also have to follow their own dance routine and memorize their flag work. Remaining in sync is a whole other challenge.

According to sophomore Lea Bohobot, Soltys’s dedication and initiative in color guard makes her comes across as a leader to the close-knit group.

“We have a captain who’s graduating, but Agata has done a lot to move up and get great at color guard,” Bohobot said. “She takes initiative, and she makes sure that we know what we’re doing by helping us if we’re ever confused. We’re small, so we’re really close, and we spend a lot of time together.”

Despite all of the hard work that goes into marching band performances, Soltys finds solace in her team members. One of her favorite memories of the year is band camp, where the entire team gets together for a week during the summertime to memorize their positions. In between their twelve-hour- long practice in the high heat, the team manages to come together and get to know each other, especially the newcomers, very well.

“Every year, there’s a thing called band camp where we go for a week to Niles West, and we just get the drills all into our head. We memorize all of the places on the field for one of the movements,” Soltys said. “It takes around three months to prepare for the show that we’re performing. We usually learn that one during that week. During that week, we spend the whole day at West. Eight [a.m.] to eight [p.m.]. But, it’s super fun. It’s very tiring because of its 90-degree heat. Very humid, because, you know, it’s Chicago. But it’s extremely fun because we get to spend time with each other and really bond with the new people and incoming freshmen.”

Bus rides to performances, which can sometimes take three hours, are also perfect moments for the team to really spend time together.

“We have three to four shows. We went to one, in Metamora, and it was three hours away,” Soltys said. “The bus ride there, we just get to bond, sing our parts on the bus, take pictures, do our makeup for the show, and have a nice time talking to each other. Those are probably my favorite moments: just bonding together as a team.”

Senior Rachel Ferrigno, this year’s captain of color guard, became close friends with Soltys. According to Ferrigno, though Soltys is highly focused on her performance, the two always manage to have a good time together.

“Agata and I met through marching band. This was her first year, and we got really close really fast,” Ferrigno said. “She’s so much fun to be around, and this year, she became one of my best friends. Being in color guard with her has been amazing, and she’s contributed so much to the team. She’s so motivated, and focused, and talented, but we can also mess around together and have a really great time.”

To Soltys, the highlight of her past year as a color guard has little to do with the sport, and more to do with the people she was able to blossom friendships with, many of which she believes will continue for the rest of her life.

“Honestly, that’s where all of my best friends are,” Soltys said. “It’s not even the fact that it’s an amazing thing to do. It’s that, too. But the people you meet. I could honestly say right now that I am going to be friends with these people for the rest of my life. I have such great connections with them, and I do not see myself not talking to these people after high school. These connections are for a lifetime. I love all of these people so much.”