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A Complete History of Spintonix Color Guard

By J.M. Hope

 

    In the fall of 2008, guard instructor Jackie Krasuski was looking for a camp where she could send her small, inexperienced color guard for basic color guard, performance, and leadership training. Teaching in the small rural community that she grew up in was her dream, and she was keenly aware of the financial difficulties plagued by her somewhat isolated hometown. Unfortunately, all of the camps available were both too far away (the nearest was a 100-mile treck), and too expensive (a three-day camp at over $300 per student was completely out of the question). So, she decided to hold her own camp for the students of her guard and drill their basics herself. She brought in a friend who marched drum corps with her to help with leadership education and had a decent season with her guard.

     However, as the fall marching band season wore on and her guard saw much success, she realized that a lot of area color guards were in the same situation as hers. They needed affordable, high-quality training that was close to home and easily accessible to students of all skill types. She remembered from her days of marching with Drum Corps International units that with great instructors and good accounting skills, it was possible to increase student knowledge and skill level in just one weekend for less than $50 per student. She also knew that her local Youth Center had a great facility that is often used for lock-ins and church gatherings. So that December, she put her fingers on her keyboard and her phone to her ear to plan the first ever Spintronix Color Guard Weekend Camp.

     2009 saw the realization of the Weekend Camp. Jackie called her friend and fellow drum corps alumnus Samantha Stepp (now Baker) from Memphis, TN to assist her in teaching flags, rifles, and dance for one weekend. There were many people who turned up to help with food donations, student recruitment, and volunteer work, including Bob Stoecker, Trudy Reed, and Willa Kramer. Twenty-five students paid $30 a piece to be a part of this new experience, where they performed to the song "Spin" by Darren Hayes. They learned and enjoyed themselves so much in one weekend that they requested the camp be put on again, one even vowed "I'll be back next year, and I'm bringing friends!"      

     Click link to watch video: 2009 Weekend Camp Final Performance

     Later that year, Jackie began the process of creating a foundation for an organization to stand on by registering "Spintronics Color Guard" with the Missouri Secretary of State's office and opening their first business bank account. (For fictitious name registration, check out this link: Missouri Secretary of State.) That fall, Kelly Krasuski (Jackie's sister) became the first Spintronix Student to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as a member of the Macy's Great American Marching Band (MGAMB) color guard, a tradition that would be carried on for many years to come.

     During the winter of 2010, Jackie opened her green, spiral-bound notebook to look over her scrawled notes and recordings from the first year of camp. She found her losses, recruited more sponsors, and balanced the books in expectation of the same amount of students. She also brought on board two more friends and fellow drum corps alumni Brittany Winfrey and Jen Berghs so assist her in instructing the camp of 30 students over the course of a weekend.

     Click link to watch video: 2010 Weekend Camp Final Performance

     During the summer of 2010, Jackie was an incredibly busy woman. First, she was asked to attend the Music For All Summer Symposium by an associate who was in the process of putting together a color guard camp in Kansas City for similar reasons to Jackie's desire to start Spintronix. She needed an instructor to attend the Color Guard Instructor academy at the MFA Summer Symposium and earn her color guard instructor certificate to fulfill a requirement that she had set for her camp. While at the symposium, Jackie made connections with many of the staff members and other color guard instructors. One staff member in particular, Derek Smith (Interplay Winter Guard), posed the question to Jackie: if you can get 30 students to travel from up to four hours away to attend a one-weekend camp, what could you do with a  competitive winter guard? Spintronix also put together their first ever parade guard; a block of 18 students who marched behind a golf cart with an amp playing music from an iPod in two local Fourth of July parades. A video montage from these parades can be found here.

     November 2010 held many great opportunities for Spintronix. Six students were accepted for membership to the Macy's Great American Marching Band color guard (a video blog was created and published that you can watch here), and they held the first Spintronix Indoor Color Guard (SIG) auditions. There were 16 members, they performed to the song "Prisoner" by Jeffree Starr, and earned 4th place at the Mid-Continent Color Guard Association (MCCGA) six-state regional championships with a score of 61.2.

     Click link to watch video: 2011 Spintronix Indoor Color Guard

     The 2011 Weekend Color Guard Camp saw an increase in student numbers once again with 40 students, and an increase in those willing to help out. The staff, composed almost entirely of drum corps veterans, was featured with a photograph on DCI.org, the official website of Drum Corps International. Spintronix began their tradition of piecing together an entire winter guard show worth of choreography in one weekend, to the amazement of many band directors and guard instructors in attendance for the traditional end-of-weekend performance. Their show was an inspiring view of the popular Katy Perry song "Firework." Spintronix also implemented their new internship program this year, where college students could attend the camp as instructors' assistants, learning how to effectively instruct color guards on small and large scales.

     Click link to watch video: 2011 Weekend Camp Final Performance

     Four more Spintronix students were selected to march with MGAMB that fall (you can watch another video blog of that trip here) and SIG auditions were hosted for the 2012 production cast. Ten students came together from mid- to southern Missouri to follow a woman in her fight against breast cancer in their production, and they finished in 2nd place at the MCCGA championships with a score of 56.7.

     Click link to watch video: 2012 Spintronix Indoor Color Guard

     The spring brought more growth to Spintronix as the Weekend Color Guard Camp took 45 students to another level with their performance to the song “Unbreakable” by the Christian band Fireflight. The staff expanded to include 8 members while the internship program was bursting with college students eager to glean information about color guard instruction from their predecessors.  The camp was once again featured with a picture on the DCI website with a caption that read “We hope to keep growing and providing excellent opportunities for young students like those provided to us through our respective drum and bugle corps!”

     Click link to watch video: 2012 Weekend Camp Final Performance

     Jackie educated herself and found inspiration during the summer of 2012 to hit the books. She incorporated Spintronix into a Missouri Non-Profit Organization and applied for the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, which was granted the following fall. She also furthered the Guardians of Spin Color Guard and Dance Camp created at the University of Missouri in Kansas City where she had been teaching and assisting to run since 2010. Later that year, Spintronix would purchase the Guardians of Spin camp.

     2012 saw the absence of Spintronix members in the MGAMB ranks, although Jackie was still involved with the organization and traveled to New York City for the event, but turned their focus to the Bands of America Honor Band. Five Spintronix students were selected by audition to join this group, which only comes together once every four years to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. This increased exposure lead Jackie to create an online capital campaign titled “Big 3 for 2013” in which Spintronix supporters could donate funds for use in the renovations of the facility where they plan to open a dance studio, and the purchase of a bus for Spintronix trips.

     The auditions for SIG 2013 saw their highest attendance, with 21 students competing for the 12 offered cast positions. The five-year anniversary also proved to be the highest scoring season for SIG yet, with a final score of 69.95 at the MCCGA six-state regional championships. The weekend camp was bursting at the seams with incredible growth thanks to several new schools who decided to send their color guards. In addition to so much local success, three students were selected to march with MGAMB this year.

     Click link to watch video: 2013 Spintronix Indoor Color Guard

     Click link to watch video: 2013 Weekend Camp Final Performance

     With so much growth and success, the Spintonix team thought the organization was going to be unstoppable, however 2014 saw a bump in the road for this ambitious bunch. The Indoor Color Guard seemed to hit a glass ceiling, unable to draw the true potential from their show "Bunheads and B-Boys" and the 2014 Weekend Camp had the lowest student and instructor satisfaction ratings since the formation of the organization. Only one student was selected for membership in the MGAMB that year. It was time for a restructuring, for Spintronix to stop dealing with the world like a small-town color guard club and get serious about doing business. Jackie attended seminars, went to training, applied for grants, and performed a complete restructuring of the supports on which the color guard stood; still emphasizing a foundational focus of student education, but taking a more business-like approach to the behind-the-scenes aspects of the organization. The year was not completely in turmoil, however, as Jackie and Erica Hipp put their heads together to create the video series "How to color guard" on the Spintronix YouTube channel during the summer, gaining a lot of supportive fans from around the world, and a small amount of revenue for the color guard from advertisements.

     Click link to watch video: 2014 Spintronix Indoor Color Guard

     Click link to watch video: 2014 Weekend Camp Final Performance

     The new deal brought in more staff, cut out trial programs that were underpeforming and draining resources, and created a collaborative atmosphere in all aspects of the organization. The hard work paid off because the five-year anniversary of the SIG performed to Lindsey Stirling's "Shatter Me" and was rewarded with a score of 70.54 at MCCGA regional championships - the first time the group has ever broken a score of 70. The Weekend Camp, though smaller due to the previous year's follies, benefited the most from the intense restructuring and had the highest feedback ratings of any camp in Spintronix history. The final performance was split up into three different pieces, one for dancers, one for weapons, and one for flags, so that all of the choreography for the weekend no longer needed to be crammed into one final performance piece. By the end of the summer, the YouTube channel had reached a staggering 4,000 subscribers from across the globe. Growth and success were just a heartbeat away once again.

     Click link to watch video: 2015 Spintronix Indoor Color Guard

     Click links to watch videos: 2015 Weekend Camp Dance, Weapons, Flags

     After such a successful season of talent and training, the SIG was noticed by one of Jackie's former guard mates from Blue Stars who is currently a successful instructor and designer in Indiana named Justin Surface. He joined the staff and designed a new show to suit the lofty dreams of the SIG staff, and while it was a beautiful show it didn't see quite the success that the team had hoped for. Coming in at 5th place in the state was the show "Spectrum" with music by David Garrett - however this show did usher in a new era of design at Spintronix with the addition of Justin to the staff. They finished out the season with a score of 75.66, an appropriate new record for the team. After having such success in Oklahoma the previous year, Spintronix once again made the trek across the state to earn another first place trophy for the shelf. The world watched in awe as this was the first year that Spintronix had a video blog on their YouTube channel, creating a chronical of their hard work and rise through the season, displaying all of the work and emotions that went into the four and a half minute show.

     Click link to watch video: 2016 Spintronix Indoor Guard

     Click links to watch videos: 2016 Weekend Camp Day 3 Performances

     2017 continued a rise as the show "The Girl From Ipanema", a feature of Brazilian culture inspired by Executive Director Jackie's recent adventure living in the country, took the stage and captured everyone's hearts. With the vlog on the YouTube channel now in its second season, Spintronix worked their way through the rankings to be seeded first in the state for the first time in history. They became State Champions when they won the IRA class with a record shattering score of 80.05. This season was full of firsts as they used their new bus (donated during the summer of 2015), took Sasha the ESA dog on the road with them, and traveled to both Memphis and Illinois for the first time, grabbing first place in both new locations.

     Click link to watch video: 2017 Spintronix Indoor Guard

     Click links to watch videos: 2017 Weekend Camp