Greencastle alumni give back to music program

Members of the first Greencastle-Antrim Middle School Indoor Guard are, from left, front row: Shanell Blubaugh, Kieran Maher, Ashlyn Hostetter, Caitlin Farkas. Back row: Victoria Burgess, Kelly Rhoe, DJ Gardner, Danielle Wenger, Amanda Hahn and Karlee Powell.

"You don't toss on the 'uh'. What word do you toss on?" called Ryan Eberly to 10 adolescent girls holding flags in the gym.

“Day,” came the response.

"That's right."

The instructor for the new Greencastle-Antrim Middle School Indoor Guard then pointed at two women standing to the side.

"These two can do whip its, and they can twirl their whip its," he said of his wife Brooke, and Shelly Hostetter, his co-instructors.

Eberly then demonstrated by rapidly spinning and tossing a white rifle.

Practice went on, another two hour session on one of two nights the fledgling team meets weekly to learn the routine and perfect their skills.

A new activity

Indoor guard for middle school students was approved by the school board in January. It was formed to complement the high school program, which began in the 1987-88 school year.

Eberly, 34, grabbed the chance to instruct the group, expanding responsibilities he gladly took on shortly after graduating from Greencastle-Antrim High School in 1994. He was first asked to work with Waynesboro students. "I took a stab at it."

He then moved to Greencastle's program, and of late has helped in both communities. He has become proficient in staging and equipment, teaching the participants how to move and handle their accessories to the music. Being where he should be is "a scheduling nightmare" but he makes do for the work he loves.

This fall a number of students in grades 6 to 8 clamored for a chance to perform. The Band Boosters was all for it. Eberly and high school band director Sam Forney saw the value of a feeder program, especially since the high school guard had fewer members than in the past.

Hostetter had seen talent in the fall rifle carriers, who accompanied the middle school band in parades. So, with no barriers, the new program started this winter and has made great strides in a short time.

The two Eberlys and Hostetter, who were in the rifle line together in high school and graduated the same year, became the instructors for the 10 participants.

"They're doing really well," said Hostetter.

Eberly agreed. "It's been a success. They are far beyond what I would have imagined."

To the background of Piece of Glory by Caedmon's Call, the team already has three firsts at judged events. It scored 50.85 over Mechanicsburg's 50.60 at Chambersburg in February, and took the trophy March 6 in Frederick, Md.,  with 59.35, edging Chambersburg 57.55 and Linganore 54.15. On March 20 in Hagerstown, Greencastle came out on top again with 58.40, leading Chambersburg (58.05), Western Heights (54) and Linganore (52.50). And in the season championships, with all 14 squads in the division participating, G-A was third Saturday in Hanover.

The trio of coaches has watched the younger girls bond with the high school team as they travel to weekend competitions together. They are learning the basics of technique, and the elements of a good performance in front of the public.

"We're laying the groundwork," Eberly said. "It's a learning experience and will be a huge benefit to the high school program."

Divide and conquer

Eberly, who also played trumpet and was drum major in high school, found instruction a natural transition. The first year he wrote the show for Waynesboro, the guard went undefeated. He has created four undefeated scripts through the years. He choreographs the moves specifically to the kids involved, whether Greencastle or Waynesboro. Sometimes they meet at an event. "Then whoever does the best wins."

Eberly relishes the creative side of the activity and is thankful Forney handles some of the administration.

"He helps coordinate practices and paperwork. Kudos to Mr. Forney. It's nice to have him take care of the details. It's beyond what he has to do."

Eberly took one year off from teaching, but found watching the high school guard groups just wasn't the same. His son Caleb, a freshman member of the indoor percussion ensemble, travels every weekend, and Eberly and Brooke were going to accompany him anyway, so both are back to instructing.

"It's in your blood," he admitted.

Younger sons Cole and Christian tag along and help out as needed. For three minutes and 15 seconds at each event, they see the results of their parents' passion.

Shelly Hostetter and Ryan Eberly, along with Brooke Eberly, not pictured, are instructing a new group of students for indoor guard competition. The three leaders were performers and classmates at Greencastle-Antrim High School in the 1990s.