Joy Lee: Spinning toward a brighter future


Kevin Safford

Joy Lee celebrating getting 2nd place at Bands of America Arizona, a national competition.

Claire Kizer, Head Copy Editor

A flag is tossed in the air and it flips once, twice, three times before landing seamlessly into practiced hands. All of it looks effortless, but the work put in by junior Joy Lee is nothing short of astonishing.

Lee began color guard during the winter guard season of 2021. Her friend, Allison Templeton, begged her to join as the group was in need of members. Lee, having a background in dance, decided to give it a try.

Color guard is a sport in which a group spins flags, rifles, sabers, and other such things to music. This can be with a marching band or on its own.

Joining this group was unlike anything Lee had ever done before. It was fun but also incredibly challenging. Not only were the environment and people welcoming and loving, but the actual sport provides a sense of accomplishment that is hard to find elsewhere.

“I have pure love for it. The adrenaline rush and performance, like you just get no other feeling,” says Lee.

Following the Fossil Ridge High School marching band season of 2022, Lee decided to try out a  Blue Knights audition camp. Blue Knights is Colorado’s Drum Core International (DCI) group. DCI is an organization where the highest level marching bands across the country compete. 

After the camp wrapped up, Lee was surprised to be immediately offered a contract to the team for the 2023 DCI marching band season. This feat is made even more impressive by the fact she is only sixteen years old, the youngest age allowed in DCI.

Joy Lee flips prop rifle high in Fossil Ridge marching show “9 to 5”. (Tara Wangen)

“I was like, really confused and didn’t know what to do with myself. So like, on top of like the piles of shock and stress and panic, I was like, what is happening?” says Lee.

Lee has been struggling for a while with what she wants to do in the future, but this audition has opened up opportunities she never could have imagined.

“A couple months ago, this wasn’t even really a possibility to me. Right now my mindset with it all is kind of just like going with the flow because I don’t know what the future holds,” says Lee.

This remarkable achievement does not come without anxiety, though. Illness and injury, while not everyday occurrences, could be enough to take someone out for a season. The financial side is also a hurdle for any DCI member, the tuition being $4,900 for the 2022 Blue Knights marching season. The stress of almost being a senior is not something Lee has forgotten about either.

“Will I be able to, like, make this work, especially being a junior going into being a senior like, shouldn’t I be touring colleges during the summer or like doing something a better use of my future? And I was like, no, because I actually do want this to be my future,” states Lee.

Lee is currently on her fifth season of color guard and her favorite so far has been Fossil’s 2022 marching show “9 to 5”. Not only was the uniform of a jumpsuit and dress a relief for when it got colder out, but the show was very clear in how you should perform.

Joy Lee and fellow color guard member run with their flags blowing beautifully behind them in “9 to 5”. (Kevin Safford)

“I like when there’s a more direct concept and more like direct ‘you should be expressing this or be feeling this,” explains Lee. “So I loved just performing ‘9 to 5’ because the show in general was like a super straightforward concept.”

Lee thinks over her last few years as part of the Fossil color guard. Sometimes it is tiring and you do not want to do it, but she truly has pure love for the sport.

“It’s kind of like your parents. It’s like sometimes you get into argument and sometimes like you really hate them for a second. But you know, on the inside, you still love them. That’s kind of what color guard is to me.”