Shoeless and with a background track of “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman,” the Tribe Guard members know how to put on a show.
Tribe Guard’s winter showcase in December featured two routines, each one choreographed by one of the two captains. Marisa Lemma ’20 and Nico Druck ’20 lead their color guard every Tuesday and Thursday in their rehearsals in Trinkle Hall, carefully choreographing every movement and flag toss.
“Nico mostly writes the work, but I occasionally do a lot of the more ‘dance-y’ stuff,” Lemma said. “We work together on the drill. Because we’re student-run, it falls on the captains to plan the show. I’ll hear a song, and I’ll be like, ‘Wow, that would make a really good guard show.’”
Druck finds inspiration not only from music but from his previous experiences.
“My high school is a big inspiration,” Druck said. “My high school did take it very seriously, oddly enough, so I take a lot of inspiration from there. Sometimes, in all honesty, I just kind of make stuff up on the spot.”
The group’s formation in 2016 originated with a surprise message in Lemma’s inbox before either Druck or Lemma arrived on campus.
“After I got accepted, I went on the Class of 2020 Facebook page and saw that there were a good number of people who also had guard in their high school experience,” Druck said. “After realizing that it wasn’t a thing here, I thought it’d be a cool idea to start one — or better said, restart, because there used to be one here in 2011. It started from me messaging Marisa. We didn’t even meet each other until Orientation.”
Lemma and Druck were required to meet with the Office of Student Leadership Development and had to ensure no similar color guard groups existed on campus. Then they had to present at least five signatures to demonstrate that interest in the group existed.
“Our first year, we pretty much only recruited people we knew that did color guard in high school,” Lemma said. “Through Facebook we were like, ‘Hey, we started this, if anybody wants to join.’”
Following the group’s first ever performance at the Day for Admitted Students in 2017, the Tribe Guard has steadily grown in size. The group consisted of six members its first year and has more than doubled in size since.
“We welcome anybody,” Lemma said. “At the beginning, news spread by word of mouth. Last year, we made sure to do the activities fair. Our performance at Day for Admitted Students helped to recruit people.”
As the numbers increase, so does the ambition. In years past, the Tribe Guard only performed at DFAS in the spring with a showcase for current students occurring in the days preceding DFAS. Within the past semester, the Tribe Guard performed a halftime performance to “Proud Mary” at a the Homecoming game for the first time, accompanied by the Pep Band. The group hopes to continue performing at new events and in new venues, though finding the time to do so is challenging.
“This year, we are still wobbling back and forth [on performing] for basketball games, because planning DFAS does take the entire semester,” Druck said. “It would be really hard to plan for basketball games and then stop and start planning for DFAS in the middle. DFAS takes every practice the entire semester to really go through, so spring semester is always a little bit more constricted. But definitely more football games, aside from just the homecoming game, and definitely the homecoming parade as well.”
The group does not perform in competitive events, though they once considered it. Lemma said they decided aginst it because competitions are exepesive and complicated to organize. Without competions, Tribe Guard is more a casual commitment that more students desire.
“Tribe Guard has been better because it’s more casual than what I’m used to, which I think is really nice for the college setting,” assistant captain Emily Salmon ’21 said. “This is my seventh year – I started in eighth grade.”
Performing means something different to everyone. For Druck, the enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of leading a group through an intimidating task. For Salmon, performing in color guard boosts her personal growth.
“I found myself,” Salmon said. “I learned to feel more confident about myself. I love guard. It’s been a big part of my life.”
The Tribe Guard is always open to new members, regardless of experience.
“If you’re even interested in it at all, you should definitely come try it,” Salmon said. “We have people who have been doing it for seven years, and we have people who just started this semester. We’re happy to teach new people new things.”