By Dr. H.R. Patin
DCN May 22, 1963
The Fabulous Red-Skirts from South Milwaukee, Wisc. made it an undefeated season as they burned up the circuit floor in Des Plaines, Illinois, copped their second consecutive championship, and won their 33rd consecutive victory. The girls, with an average age of 13.6 years, became the second guard in circuit history to make it an undefeated season. The Phantomettes did it in 1959. The Red-Skirts now possess almost every record in the circuit books and it is the opinion of many that they are the top Jr. Guard in the country today.
Thirty-two guards entered the big championship show. Amongst them were several challengers very determined to prevent the Mariners from being the first guard in history to win the title twice in a row and to keep the coveted championship flag. Very capable and dangerous opponents to the defending champions were the National American Legion Champion Kankakee Shadows, the National VFW Champion Norwood Park Imperials, the Rockford Phantomettes and other guards who have been tough this year, like the Des Plaines Corsairs, the Racine Kilties, the McHenry Viscounts, Our Lady of Mercy, Skokie Vanguard and the Milwaukee Starlites. The Troopers from Casper, Wyoming, made the big show their first this year and were predicted to be a dangerous contender.
In the prelims the Shadows, with their sights on the Maitland M&M Memorial Trophy in mind, cut their drill down to under the minimum time of 4 minutes and had a rifleman use up the time til the gunshot. The strategy worked and the Kankakee boys beat the Red-Skirts by five-tenths in M&M. So spirited was their show that the GE judges kept it close and they took the Mariners by .35 in the prelims, 94.55 to 94.2.
The Phantomettes were third with 92.55 and a show of their usual fine quality. The Kilties outpointed the Imperials 91.95 to 90.35. Other finalists were the Viscounts with 88.95 and a smooth show, the Corsairs with 88.65, Our Lady of Mercy with 86.5, the Vanguards with 86.35, and the Starlites with 85.7.
The Troopers would have earned an 8th place, had it not been for a boundary line penalty. The Wyoming girls displayed a very fine M&M, a spirited spreadout show, and some very good and precise rifle work. Considering the lack of competition for them out west, it is actually amazing the show these girls can put forth. If they had the benefit of a whole circuit season under their belts they certainly would be one of the best.
All the other 22 guards did creditable jobs. The Scarlet Knights of Gurnee earned the year's "most improved guard" trophy, and the St. Alexis Vikings got the "most competitive guard" award. The Knights took 15th and the Vikings 14th. The Patriots, Black Guard, and Spectacle City Privateers also did exceptionally good prelim jobs. The State was set for the finals and the Shadows had the upper hand.
The Final show was one of thrills, spirit and precision that would make the National shows look like pre-season warmups. All the guards looked like real champions. The Shadows were terrific and their first half made a lot of spectators think the Mariners might be beat. However, the pressure of the situation, or some other quirck of fate caused their second half to break a bit. It was not perfect and the boys themselves knew it.
The Mariners, determined more than ever after their preliminary strategic loss, put on a show comparable to their record-breaking performance that won the title in 1962. The girls were sharp, spirited, and precise. The rifles and flags clicked, and the drill went from beginning to end like a well-oiled machine.
The Phantomettes, Imperials, and Kilties were a coin-toss type thing, and the Corsairs were fine to watch. The Rockford girls kept their third place, but the Corsairs pushed their way up to 4th. The VFW champion Imperials pushed way past the tough Kilties and won 5th place looking like a champion. Seventh went to the red-coated Vanguard from Skokie and 8th to the green-clad girls from Mercy High. The always smooth Viscounts were ninth and the Milwaukee Starlites 10th.
The Mariners won the Sweepstakes trophy for the guard with the best season's record. They got the championship trophy and flag, and by virtue of a 5-tenths lead over the Shadows in M&M in the Finals, they tied the Shadows in M&M average for the two appearances to win a share of the Maitland Memorial for 1963.
Miss Diane Last, Mariner Commander won the Sword for being the best female C.O. and Gary Cartier of the Shadows won the Male Sword. Diane also got the Sword for the Season's Command Excellence which is given to the C.O. of the winner of the Sweepstakes award. Plaques were also awarded to the Mariners for the traveling awards won by them last year. It was a happy day for the Red-Skirts and another page for the circuit record books.
The Mariners, who have enjoyed 8 years of winning with its Drill Team and Guard are now starting on the bottom rung of the ladder with their new corps. This summer will find the 6-month-old unit trying themselves in parades. Progress is on schedule and already its effect on surrounding units is felt.
The Mariners strength always centered on its organization being sound. Its management is nonconflicting and capable and smooth. Its instructors are tops and abundant and its Parent Club is financially and morally 100 percent behind them. The spirit of the youth is tops and the future of the corps will certainly be like the team and guard --- no matter how it starts.