Video Conference Recap: On Guard

An overview of our webinar with the guard staff on March 18

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Last night, Director George Hopkins interviewed Cadets Color Guard Designer Greg Lagola, Caption Supervisor Eric Babula and Choreographer/Instructor Katie Hopkins about The Cadets guard experience, from auditions to show design.

Greg, Eric and Katie each introduced themselves and told a bit about their drum corps backgrounds and "real-lives."

"A lot of people may know me as the White Rabbit from '06," Eric told listeners. He marched in The Cadets for six years, from 2002 through his age-out as a captain in 2007.

George directed the discussion down memory lane to talk about Katie and Eric's experience as characters in The Cadets' 2006 program, The Zone Volume 2: Through the Looking Glass.


Although she has been around the corps every since she can remember, 2006 was Katie's first year as a Cadet. As a dancer with absolutely no color guard experience, she never expected to march, but, as fate and irony would have it, the show provided the perfect "door" to her Cadets experience.KatieHopkins_Alice_umbrella_2006ballad.jpg

She was able to spend a year performing with the corps and learning to spin from some of the best in the business. She was a captain two years later, and has now been teaching The Cadets Color Guard for going on five years.

"I remember that being one of the hardest years I marched," Katie said. "The '06 show tends to get overlooked, but it had some really great moments. The ballad that year was really special."

On the subject of challenging years, Greg took the opportunity to recall his very first year teaching The Cadets in 1989.1989retreat_edit.jpeg

"I didn't march here, so at first people didn't really know what to think of me as an instructor," he said. "I remember going out for our first contest in '89 with the Les Mis show, and we only had five guard guys on the field because they were the only ones who knew the show at that point. That was definitely one of the hardest years I remember, but we actually went on to win color guard that year."

Greg lives in New York City and marched in the Sunrisers years ago. This is his fifteenth year of involvement with The Cadets. He now works with George, Jeff Sacktig, Jay Bocook and others as a member of the creative team, and is often behind the guard's uniform and flag designs. He is also the creator of last year's loops, hooks and bolts - The Cadets' Side by Side substitute for traditional weapons.

Listeners had several questions regarding the 2014 auxiliary equipment, which Greg and Eric addressed to the best of their ability at this stage of the design process. While The Cadets' equipment for 2014 has yet to be finalized, Greg assured our more traditional fans that he and the entire guard staff love spinning sabre and rifle, and while more modern designs will surely be implemented in the future, he has no intention of taking the "weapon" effect out of drum corps.

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For those on the call, George went on to reveal rough sketches of a large stage currently being designed for the 2014 program, Promise: An American Portrait, as well as some colored fabric samples to be used in the color guard's contribution to the program. Stay tuned for the official release of our 2014 design elements in the coming weeks and months.

In addition to the discussion of past year's and the impending season, George asked Katie and Eric to discuss the audition process for the younger listeners posing questions.

"I don't want to put a certain number of years' experience as a prerequisite to marching here," Eric said, "and we do have several members who don't participate in a winterguard during the off-season. If you come ready to work hard and keep it up throughout the winter, I really believe anything is possible."

Katie, a professional dancer who received her Bachelor's Degree in Dance from Columbia College Chicago, agreed, adding that Cadets guard members come from a wide range of dance backgrounds, some with no dance training at all.


If you're interested in auditioning for The 2014 Cadets Color Guard (on video or in person next month), please e-mail Caption Supervisor Eric Babula at


Thanks to everyone who tuned in to last night's video conference. If you have a question that went unanswered on the call, submit it for Ask Me Monday!

If you missed the talk, tune in on Tues., March 25 for a special video conference with The Cadets Brass Arranger Jay Bocook.
Click here to read about each webinar.

Sign up to listen here, and you will receive an e-mail reminder inviting you to the call on Tuesday.


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