WHS color guard leader hangs up her whistle - Republic-Times | News

WHS color guard leader hangs up her whistle

By on October 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Pictured is retiring WHS color guard instructor Abbey Hoerr with her students. (submitted photo)

Abbey Hoerr found one of her passions in high school as a member of the Waterloo High School color guard team. 

“It was great,” Hoerr said. “I really enjoyed it. It was something different and interesting to learn to perform in a different way by using a flag, using different equipment and dancing. I really enjoyed it and can’t seem to give it up. I’ve been doing it forever it seems like.”

It seems like Hoerr has been doing it forever because she continued her color guard career when she went to college at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Then, shortly before graduation, Hoerr got a call from her former coach at WHS asking her to take over the program because the coach was retiring.

Hoerr took the color guard instructor job, starting in the fall of 2001. 

“It just kind of worked out and I’ve been there ever since,” she said. 

Now, Hoerr is retiring from her position after 17 years.

“I have three kids and they’re just getting busier and busier,” said Hoerr, who also teaches second grade in Valmeyer. “Also, Mr. Mullins is retiring this year, and, man, I’ve had it too good. He’s just a great person to work for. I just think if he’s going, I kind of want to go with him. I don’t think I could get any better.”

Hoerr said she has kept learning over the years, but her college career helped prepare her for a role as coach. In large part, that was because she became the choreographer at SIUC. 

That experience helps her as coach because her responsibilities are to choreograph and teach routines to the color guard members. She may also assist with deciding how the students move on the field. 

“I learned a lot when I went to the university,” Hoerr said. “Becoming the choreographer really taught me the other side of it and the aspect of being able to write it and be able to teach it to other people.”

Hoerr took that experience, in addition to time she spent in a competitive drum corps one summer, and has had successful season after successful season. 

She said one of the highlights of those 17 seasons was when her team went undefeated about five years into her tenure.

“I’ve only ever had that happen once, where every competition we went to the color guard got first,” Hoerr said. “That was pretty exciting. It’s also been pretty fun to keep being a repeat champion at Murphysboro.”

“It’s just really fun for me to watch these girls to take something I love and just kind of make it their own,” she added. 

Hoerr said she and her squads have also faced adversity in her career.

About six years ago, for example, Hoerr retired. But, after her replacement did not work out, Mullins asked her to come in and write the show, even though the color guard was already through their camps. 

Hoerr talked with her family and decided to get the team through the season.

“That was really hard to start so late,” Hoerr remembered. “They do so much in the summer in their camps and everything. That was a tough season for them and the girls just persevered and put in a little extra time. It was a bumpy season for them.”

Hoerr then decided to continue coaching. 

After this Saturday, however, Hoerr will hang up her whistle for good. That is the date of the color’s guard’s final competition of the season. It will be in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

Looking back at her time in the program, Hoerr, who will continue teaching, said she cherishes her students more than anything. 

“I have so many of them that are grown up,” she said. “They’re married and they have kids and they still remember so much stuff. It’s really neat to see the impact it’s made on them. It’s really nice.”

James Moss