With so many students participating in extracurricular activities, it is easy to overlook the fact that being on any type of team is more than just fun; it is a commitment. Time, money, and hard work are among the sacrifices made by both the students and their families, but the drive to excel is worth it for many. Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, Rachel Edrich, is one of those students. The now 22-year-old University of Alabama senior shares the journey that led her down what was previously an unexpected path.
Rachel had danced and played soccer but things took a turn when a neighbor saw her out spinning a flag and suggested that she try out for the color guard. Swapping a flag for a rifle, Rachel made the team. She admitted that she did not like it at first but decided to continue. When asked now what advice she would give to younger girls she responds, “Do not give up.” The career of many student-athletes ends in high school but the commitment to her practices, training, and competitions has taken her far beyond that point. Rachel Edrich
Upon acceptance to the University of Alabama, Rachel decided that she would try out for its color guard. Rachel was given a prior opportunity to prove herself when Alabama scouts attended one of her high school competitions being held in Ohio. Once she made it to Alabama and was given the opportunity, she became part of the Alabama Million Dollar Marching Band Color Guard.
With 37 young women on the team, Rachel describes it as being “one big sisterhood” where “everyone has your back.” Veteran members are teamed up with the incoming freshmen for what is called “Big Sister, Little Sister.” With daily practices, strength training, and a full academic schedule, the young women are there to help each other through any hurdles they might encounter. There are high expectations of this team as they are expected to maintain an image of being strong and fit as they represent the University of Alabama.
While maintaining the level of athleticism that is required to control their equipment and perform for a five-minute routine, there is still a lot of glitz and glamour that goes along with being part of the color guard. Every year the women receive a new uniform, custom made and studded with rhinestones. Rachel said that since she has been there, the big script A has remained a signature feature of the uniforms and that it always looks stunning and photographs beautifully when they are on the field.
Rachel expresses her excitement for game day. “The best thing I can ask for is to get out on the field every Saturday and be a part of such an existing tradition.” She said that one of the things she enjoys most is looking out from the field and seeing how the fan base is generational, spanning all ages.
Describing what it is like to be part of this team, Rachel explains that it is more than performing; it is about bonding with other people. Being part of the team has also taught Rachel valuable life skills that will help her continue on her journey. While she must try out for the team every season, for now Rachel will continue to greet everyone with a “Roll Tide” as is the tradition with ‘Bama fans.