Local parish teams bring home bronze at world color guard championships

When Greg Horne led over 100 students, parents and chaperones from Beverly to San Diego, Calif., his overwhelming concern was to get each one back safely. But when they returned from the 2004 Winter Color Guard World Championships with two bronze medals, the effort paid off, and he was, he said, “just ecstatic.”

Horne is the director of four color guard teams at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Beverly. His performers, ages 12 through 21, begin rehearsals each year in September for the January-April color guard competition season, said Horne, who also teaches kindergarten at the parish school. This year, his Independent A color guard, consisting of junior high and high school students, and Independent Open color guard, a group of college students, both qualified at regional competitions for the World Championships.

The annual championships took place April 15-17 at the University of San Diego. Over 350 groups made up of 11,000 performers from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia as well as the Americas competed, Horne said. Color guards performed choreographed routines before a panel of 10 international judges, he explained.

After the preliminary rounds, both Beverly teams were in fourth place in their categories and “had to come up in the finals,” said Horne. The Independent A guard scored 92.3 out of a possible 100 in the final round on April 16 to earn the bronze medal, and the Independent Open guard scored 94.7 the next morning to match the achievement.

"It's just amazing that two groups from one parish could do that," Horne remarked. He attributed the teams' successes to the support of their parish and pastor, Father George J. Butera.

While coming home after such a victory might be a let-down for some, Horne reported that he is still “on cloud nine” and looks forward to next year.