While they may have once been a tad competitive, seven young women from four of Forsyth County’s public high schools have joined forces as the face of the University of Georgia’s Redcoat Marching Band.
That was nice for Paige Harmon, who just began her freshman year after graduating in May from Forsyth Central.
“It definitely kicked in that family feel really fast,” Harmon said. “We’re definitely a lot closer than I think we would have been if we had all come in [to the Redcoat Band] as strangers.”
Alexa Vale, also a Central graduate who is now a junior at UGA, serves as one of two captains of the 26-member flag line.
She said it’s impressive to have Forsyth graduates making up such a high percentage, about a quarter, of the line.
“From my experience, I think it is really unusual to have so many girls from one county,” Vale said.
She noted that the women all quickly came together in Athens.
“There was definitely some competition between us [in high school], but now that we’re all on flag line together, that competition doesn’t carry over at all.”
For Paige Harmon’s mother, Jane, knowing her daughter shared a bond with the other local graduates on the line was comforting as she sent her off to start college.
“It’s just a good group of kids,” she said. “They’re all great girls and they have to be very disciplined because their schedules are so rigorous.
“You have to learn to manage your time well to balance all the things you’ve got going on because your whole team is counting on you.”
As for competition, Jane Harmon said band and color guard programs in Forsyth County are different from many other group activities.
“Of course, they are in the competitions in high school, but they all have such respect for each other,” she said. “[Those programs] really build a very mature, healthy competitive atmosphere without being cutthroat.
“You want to win, but you always support the others, especially the ones that are in your same county. You like to see everybody do well.”
Vale and Paige Harmon said that unique interaction between the groups led the Forsyth alumni share a unique bond.
“We’re all really good friends,” Vale said. “We have our whole big sister-little sister program that we do and a lot of us are sisters to [the younger girls from Forsyth].
“It’s really unique to have us all there.”
Added Paige Harmon: “I just notice that [of the flag line members] we have the biggest connection together.”