• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on March 17, 2009
ST. CHARLES – Coming into the city from the east on Route 38, a little green sign lets drivers know the St. Charles East High School color guard has been state champ from 2002 to 2008.
Well, they’re going to need to add an extra year to that.
St. Charles East added to its hardware with three first-place trophies from the Illinois Drill Team Association’s state finals in Champaign. They placed first in the lyrical flag, short flag and tall flag categories.
One of the highlight was the lyrical flag routine, done to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic,” in which the team finished by shaping into a boat while two of the girls posed as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the movie.
Senior captain Ashley Winn helped pick the song and portrayed Jack at the end.
“The song has so much meaning to it and the parents really loved it,” Winn said. “They were crying.”
St. Charles East coach Johnni Zabka is well aware of the power of that routine.
“It makes everyone cry,” Zabka said. “That’s our tear-jerker routine.”
This is Zabka’s 13th year with the team and she was proud of what the girls accomplished.
“Our goal is to have routines that were fun and entertaining for the spectators,” Zabka said. “We want our routines to be memorable to them.”
And being in color guard certainly was memorable for the senior team members.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Kelley Knudson, a senior captain. “I’m really sad it’s over, but it was fun while it lasted. I’m going to miss my coach.”
Winn shared Knudson’s thoughts.
“I’m really going to miss the girls and definitely my coach,” Winn said. “She definitely was one of my best friends, and [being on color guard] probably was the best thing that ever happened to me.”