Making Color Guard history

Whether it is staying after school to assist a teammate or helping out with the choreography, sophomore Paulina Utomo has taken on the demanding yet rewarding task of leading the Junior Varsity Color Guard team.

Utomo serves as JV Color Guard’s first sophomore captain after her debut at Walnut during the 2015-16 school year. She officially undertook the role in the beginning of the 2016 winter season with co-captain junior Aaya Ahmed.

“When I first found out that I was selected to be the captain, I really felt like my hard work paid off,” Utomo said. “Since the last captain was a junior, it was kind of awkward for me to adjust, but it’s still a great feeling to be in a position of leadership. I also knew that I had a lot of responsibility as well. I want to strengthen our team, and I can’t achieve this without being a leader [who] they respect.”

Utomo’s friend inspired her to join Color Guard in freshman year, and also prompted her to try out. The night before auditions, she practiced until 11:00 p.m., hoping to perfect the routine. After being accepted, she found herself practicing for up to four hours daily and enjoying the excitement of performing.

“I’ve always loved Color Guard; there still has never come a time when I didn’t like it,” Utomo said. “In freshman year, I was in Varsity, and I loved the vibe that everyone gave off, and I fell in love with the art that season. I loved performing, and I loved the rush of excitement, and I especially love how everyone tried their best and was so supportive of one another. Color Guard is my outlet, and even though the practices were exhausting and extremely challenging, I loved it.”

As part of her role, Utomo directs the drills and is responsible for keeping the rest of the team organized. In addition to practices during first period and on Thursdays from 3:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m., she aids the coach in setting up rehearsals and stays late to give advice to teammates when needed. In addition, Utomo manages all four Color Guard sections since there are less leaders this season. She is responsible for overseeing choreography and precision, aiming to perfect the routines and to create a uniform team.

“I really want everyone on our team to shine, so I try to get in the extra hour just to help them out,” Utomo said. “Sometimes I’ll give one-on-one time after practice, so we can all work together to improve the flow of the routines. I try to clean the repetitions and motivate my team. Overall, I just want to have a team that is close and tight-knit. I want our team to have a bond. It’s only when we have close relationships, that we perform well.”

Utomo plans on improving her own technique by refining the accuracy in her stunts and practicing routines in her spare time. She is constantly looking for ways to lead her team better, and hopes to make it to state championships this season.

“Having the opportunity to be a leader has really helped me,” Utomo said. “At first, I was definitely nervous. I couldn’t speak very loudly, and I knew that I had to project my voice. It’s hard to adapt, since I’ve never been in such an important leadership role before now. It’s kind of stressful at times, since there’s a lot of responsibility involved, but having this role is really an honor. I feel more strengthened and proud to be in Color Guard than ever.”

By Ashley Liang, Staff writer
Photo by Kevin Arifin