Color guard is a challenging sport, and winter guard is like color guard with even more athleticism. Winter guard combines color guard, which mostly consists of twirling rifles and flags, with complex cheerleading and dance routines. While color guard in its original form is mostly confined to the United States, winter guard groups exist in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Two places where winter guard has made a real name for itself outside of the US are the UK and the Netherlands. Teams in the UK and the Netherlands Unlike American schools, European schools do not offer color guard as an extracurricular activity. However, Europe caught on to the trend shortly after it was established as a sport. In 1980, the UK formed its first winter guard team. Their current team — Mayflower — is now one of the most celebrated winter guard teams in Europe. The Netherlands formed its first team — Pride of the Netherlands — in 1983. Recruitment at European Schools Since schools in Europe don’t have after school color guard programs, members of winter guard teams recruit students as young as 3 years old by performing at PE classes. Despite their teams competing in worldwide competitions, most people in these countries haven’t heard of color guard, so these recruiters spread information while gaining membership. Origins in the United States Color guard originated in the United States as a military flag ceremony performed by veterans. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, color guard evolved into being more like what we see today. The first competitive season started in 1973. Most people in this country have at least heard of color guard. Schools offer color guard and winter guard as extracurricular activities. There are different divisions based on school size, and independent groups are placed in divisions based on how they did in previous competitions. Winter guard starts at the same time in Europe and the US, around September or October, and Winter Guard International typically hosts a competition in the United States to wrap up the season. This year, the WGI championships will be virtual. At Star Line Baton, we offer a variety of high-quality color guard uniform pieces and props. If you have any questions or need more information, call us at 931-528-7829.