Chimera's "Young Guns" wow audiences.
April 3rd, 2019
In one of the greatest performances in program history, Chimera Winterguard finished up their 2019 season at the Southern Association for Performing Arts Championships last Saturday in Chattanooga, Tn., by winning a bronze medal in their first season competing in Independent A class.
Chimera has been an annual championship contender in the lower I.R.A. class (Independent Regional A) since their entrance into competition in 2016. But in September, the administration and instructional staff decided to up the ante and jump to I.A. for 2019.
Executive Director, Doug Cowden, explained that jumping to a higher and more competitive level was a strategic move, but wasn't exactly a sure thing, stating "There was some back and forth discussion in the pre-season between myself and the instructional staff as to whether that was the right move, especially considering how young our guard was. Coming into pre-season rehearsals, the average age of our guard was 16 years old. That's about 2 years younger than what it has been in previous years. But with the amazing show concept that Shawn [Smith - Lead Choreographer and Designer] came up with, we knew we had the vehicle to do something special. So we decided to just go for it and see what we could do." And wow, did they do something!
The young guns of Chimera came out of the gate swinging in their first show at Kennesaw Mountain High School on January 26th and wowed the crowd with their "The Greatest Showman" inspired show entitled "On the Inside". "We knew going in that we had a very talented group with a lot of potential, but we may not have realized just how talented. The members worked their tails off all pre-season. [They are] probably the hardest working group we've ever had. That hard work and talent showed up in our first show with a much better result than we really expected," Cowden commented. Much to the surprise of just about everyone, Chimera went toe to toe with much older and more experienced guards, consisting of all college aged students, and threw the first "hay-maker". When the dust settled, Chimera ended up finishing a mere 2.9 points behind perennial powerhouse UGA and only 7 points behind World Championship semi-finalist, Reverie.
From that point on, it was obvious that the rest of the season was going to have some fireworks. Cowden agreed, saying "With how we did at the first show, and the super talented guards that we were going to be competing against later in the season (UGA, Reverie, Florida State, N.C. State, etc), to come out that well, we knew that we had a dog-fight on our hands". And he was right. For the rest of the season, Chimera remained neck and neck with the top level guards, despite being significantly younger than their competition. "Guards as young and inexperienced as we are aren't supposed to do that. It certainly is a testament to our incredible, hardworking, and talented members, our amazingly creative staff, and our fantastic parent volunteers. Without them, we don't get anywhere near the guards at that level," said Cowden.
Clarissa Brown (L) and Brnylee Hardison (R) perfroming at S.A.P.A. Championships
Everything culminated last Saturday evening with Chimera putting on a whale of a show for thousands of fans in McKenzie Arena, on the campus of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and winning a bronze medal in only their first season in Independent A with a score of 76.335. Cowden praised the guard and showed his pride when he said "We have been very fortunate over our first 4 years by winning two golds and a silver." Then he smiled and said "But I am more proud of this bronze medal because of how hard they worked to get it and the fact that they simply weren't 'supposed' to be that good."
So with the season now over, for now, the rehearsals have stopped, the music has gone quiet, the gym is empty, and the members of Chimera have all gone their separate ways for a much deserved break and to continue their lives as normal teenagers worrying about boys, grades, and prom dresses. But make no mistake, next season is not too far from the minds of the members and staff. Auditions are only 5 months away, in September, and the winterguard world is definitely keeping an eye on what the "young guns" are going to come up with next.
For more information on Chimera Winterguard, clinic opportunities, and upcoming audition dates, keep an eye on their website, www.chimerawinterguard.org.
Awards retreat at S.A.P.A. Championships in McKenzie Arena on Saturday, March 30th, 2019.