Imagine walking in to Lambert Fieldhouse to see rifles and sabres spinning through the air — that’s just a normal day at rehearsal for the Purdue Golden Silks winter guard, whose members can be seen during football games spinning their signature golden silks.
The color guard competes separately from the All-American Marching Band in the winter and spring season, traveling to compete in Winter Guard International competitions throughout the Midwest.
The Golden Silks’ show for this winter season is entitled “Up, Up, and Away.”
Chad Young, the Golden Silks color guard coach and winter guard director with the Purdue Bands & Orchestras, has coached the guard for two years.
“(The show is) about a vintage hot air balloon ride and we are doing the music of Ron Nelson,” Young said. “’Rocky Point Holiday’ is the name of the piece. It’s very vibrant and happy and whimsical.”
Young came out of his retirement from directing color guards to teach the Golden Silks last year.
“They were founded way after the twirlers and the golden dusters,” Young said. “So it’s kind of taken off and I’m just trying to get them back on track.”
Young said the guard is in a rebuilding phase right now. He wants to focus on getting everyone on the same skill level, since the group has a wide variety of talents with varying past experience in color guard.
“We are trying to find what I call the ‘Purdue technique’ and hone into one style that makes everyone look great,” he said.
The captain for next year’s season is Allie Megl, a junior in the College of Agriculture.
Megl said she liked the winter season specifically because it allows the guard to increase the difficulty of the work they perform.
“We get to do much harder stuff than in the fall, and just being by ourselves we get to really explore what color guard is,” Megl said.
The current captain of the color guard is Lauren Richardson, a senior in Krannert School of Business and Management.
Richardson said she decided to join Purdue’s guard after enjoying guard in high school. However, she didn’t have a very talented program in her hometown, and looked forward to improving her skills.
The color guard performs both with and without the marching band during the winter season. It focuses more on spinning rifles and sabres, as well as dance elements within the sport which are sometimes harder to execute outdoors.
“You get to see a lot more of what everyone is talented at in the winter, because in the fall we are mostly just on flag,” Richardson said. “Getting to see people grow during the winter season is really cool.”
Richardson also said she preferred the winter season because they have such a quick turnaround in the fall, putting out new shows for each home game. In the winter, however, they focus on perfecting one show and working in smaller groups.
“We get really close as a team in the winter,” she said. “All of my very best friends are in this group.”
This weekend, the Golden Silks will be traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they will compete in Independent A-class at the Mid East Power Regional, the group’s final competition before world championships on May 4-6 in Dayton, Ohio.
The group will also be performing a final send-off performance on April 3 that will be open to the Purdue community in Lambert Fieldhouse before it heads off to finals.