Flags of Meaning


Callista McCullough performs at a color guard competition.

Eliya Moody, Staff Writer

 As the white wrinkled flag rainbowed 12 feet over then-freshman Callista McCullough, she already had it in her head that it was just another failed attempt at a really challenging toss. After months of practice and consistent failure, nothing seemed extraordinary about this particular time–that is, until the sound of cheering teammates rattled in through McCullough’s ears and consumed her entire body. 

Frozen with the flagpole perfectly grasped in her sweating palms, McCullough stood confused at why everyone would be cheering. But then, the realization hit McCullough like the flag had too many times before. 

McCullough had finally conquered something that for so long seemed impossible–a rainbow toss.

“When it comes to color guard, things might seem impossible but you would be shocked at how much you can do,” McCullough said. “It’s fun to try new things and push yourself to limits you didn’t know you could reach.”

 McCullough’s passion for color guard took off after seeing the High School color guard perform when she was in 8th grade. McCullough was amazed by the bright colors and stunning tosses. From that very moment, McCullough fell in love with the unique style of color guard.

 “Color guard has the peacefulness and grace of dance, but then you can also be tough, like with the flag,” McCullough said. “Color guard is a lot different because you have to be sure you are doing the same thing at the same time with everyone else. You have to learn how the equipment works, meaning how it will spin when you toss it so you know how to catch it strong. Factors of sun or wind can make the equipment spin in abnormal ways and you have to know how to adjust.”

 As the end of the fall season approaches, McCullough will switch her focus to winter guard, which she has done since freshman year as well.

 “[Winter guard] has a much smaller field so we get to be much closer to the audience, which makes it so much easier to make eye contact with the audience. I love making eye contact with the audience because it is a moment to say ‘Yes! Look at what I can do!” McCullough said. 

 McCullough remembered a particular moment when that eye contact made a difference during the 2019 “A Fairy’s Tale” show.

 “I had a flag piece where I was on the front edge of the tarp and would pop my flag up. I would always look at the people right in front of me and make a fun face as I did the flag part. It is so nice to visibly see people enjoying what you are doing as you are doing it,” McCullough said.

 The love and passion that McCullough first felt for color guard have not faded away with time. Four years later, color guard has still remained a key part of the senior’s life, and McCullough plans to expand her passion in the future.

 “It would be a dream to one day be a part of the staff for the Center Grove color guard. I plan to minor in dance in college. I have been considering doing winter guard after high school in independent groups but I am not sure of that yet,” McCullough said.

 McCullough said color guard has shaped her into the person she is today. McCullough said that she cannot see herself graduating and not coming back.

 “Color guard has taught me many life lessons that made me the person I am today. It has taught me how to push myself and never tell myself I can’t do something. I’m constantly finding new skills that are seemingly undoable because those are the skills that are the most fun once you get them,” McCullough said.