[Editors Note: This piece originally ran in the El Paso Herald-Post. In the end, when our editor left, it was removed. We wanted to reshare the story and the insperation it provided.]
When I’m out, shooting a high school football game, I’m not just focusing on the game. What I do is try to take in everything: the game, the fans, the families, the coaches, cheerleaders, flag girls, even the JROTC kids doing push-ups each time their team wins. That’s how I came to know the Fabens Color Guard.
What is the colour guard? Others may know them as “flag girls.” They are the ones you see, during halftime, out there with the marching band, doing routines with flags, or other props.
The colour guard that we see today has its history with the military. During the early days of the Civil War, soldiers had a marching band accompany them onto the battlefield. As part of that band, someone was carrying the flag, the “colours.” It was during this war that the first colour guard was born.
As time passed, the colour guard became associated with marching bands in both high school and university. What we see today, on the football fields of high schools and universities nationwide is the product of Peggy Twiggs who is the inventor of the “Peggy spin” which took flag spinning to a new level.
What happened is that one day, while Peggy was standing around and board during regular practice, she began to twirl the flag in ways JROTC cadets would with their rifles. That was the beginning of what we see today.
As I covered games with Fabens, I reached out the colour guard coach, Rebecca Elaine Soto. I mentioned that I wanted to talk to her girls, and we were set. So, I was able to meet with five members of the team: Banai, Azucena, Ezvidi, Jessica and Emiley.
The Fabens Color Guard, according to Ezveidi, is, “it’s basically dancing with a lot of routines, and like just breakdowns with polls and flags. Just creating a big show for them.”
The last game I covered with them and Fabens was on a cold night. Still, they were out there. I thought back to that night, and so many others where it’s been either cold or raining and wondered why girls even do the colour guard.
“Because it’s fun,” says Emiley. “You get to express yourself. You get just to let loose.”
Expressing themselves and having fun on the field is something each of these girls does. They are out there cheering (before their routine at the halftime show) not only for the players but the cheerleaders as well.
For that first semester, when football season is running, they are there doing their thing. But what happens to the colour guard when after the last football game is played?
“We do it for the first semester,” says Emiley. “Then, second semester, we go back to our instruments.”
Emiley and Azucena play the flute. Jessica plays the bass clarinet, while Ezveidi is a percussionist and Banai plays the euphonium.
During that first semester, though, they can be found performing one routine after another, cheering the crowd and players on and receiving rave reviews and compliments from everyone who sees them.
“We like what they do,” says Hector, a student, whom I spoke to during their last game. “It is cold out here, and there they are, giving it their all. They stay out for all of the game. They bring up the excitement level.”
Another student, Esme, shared her opinion as well.
“They’re so cute, look at them,” she said. “They have more cheer energy than you would think. I love them.”
“It’s so cool,’” says Emiley, quoting what others have said. “’The pole is bigger than you, but you do all this’.”
What’s the best thing, in their opinion, of being in the colour guard?
“Friendships,” says Azucena. “Like on here, we’ve made a lot of friendships.”
That, right there, is that anything you do in school is about, I think. In high school, we tend to form some of the friendships that will last throughout our lives. The people we meet there help to make us who we are. These girls, who they are, and who they are going to be is because of who their friends are.
Often, when I’m interviewing kids in high school, I can see friendships, but that’s it. With these girls, their bond is closer than that, more intimate than just being friends. No. These girls are like family.
During our photoshoot, they were encouraging each other, pepping each other up. They were. Also, I noticed, sad about the ones there were not there for the shoot or interview. This was something they wanted to share, as friends and family.
When they realised that Ezveidi was not going to be there next year, you could see them become sad. As a joke, I said she could fail, but Emiley looked at her, shuck her head no, and told her not to.
Then there are the girls I saw on the field, during the games I covered. They were also concerned about the players, and not just from their team. During one game, when a guy from the other side was hurt, one of the girls said that she hoped he was okay. The others echoed her thoughts.
There are times when I look at the next generation and worry. There are times when I think we are turning the future of our world over to a bunch of kids who don’t want to do anything more than look out for themselves. Then, I meet people like Banai, Emiley, Ezveidi, Jessica and Azucena, and I see there is hope for us all after all.
The parents of these girls have done a fantastic job in raising them, imparting values, desire, compassion and drive into each of them.
I have no doubt we will be hearing more of them in the future. With Banai waning to join the El Paso Police Department; Emiley wants to attend acting school in California; Ezveidi intends to work with animals (Animal Sciences major); Azucena will be a business major; Jessica wants to be a graphic artist.
Still, no matter what these five girls do, we will be hearing more about them in the future. They are positive, full of energy, great role models, and the future of our country.
There is so much more you can learn about them; so, take ten minutes and check out the video with them. You’ll be glad you did.
Have a story you want to share? Get in touch with us at Editor@SanEliNews.com