Utica High School senior Lauren Kerr carries on with her duties on the Utica High School color guard this fall, despite an arm injury.

Utica High School senior Lauren Kerr carries on with her duties on the Utica High School color guard this fall, despite an arm injury.

Photo provided by Debra Kaszubski

Color guard co-captain raises the flag despite injury

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published November 15, 2019


STERLING HEIGHTS — As a co-captain of the Utica High School color guard, Lauren Kerr is used to being a right-hand woman to the coach and the rest of the team. But with an injured left arm, it’s been a little harder this fall.

Kerr, a 17-year-old high school senior, is in her fourth year of being part of Utica High’s color guard. She suffered an elbow tendonitis injury over the summer and explained that the pain often spreads to her shoulder and neck.

She attributed the inflammation injury to certain motions from color guard flag spinning, compounded by the fact that she hurt her arm and elbow a few years ago.

“They think it’s overuse and from doing everything repetitive,” she said. “When you’re doing the basics, what you’re doing with your arm is very repetitive. It for sure inflamed my elbow.”

Kerr called the injury “heartbreaking,” since spinning is her life. She did physical therapy to get better, but her freedom to move her left arm was limited. “Everything comes from my right,” she said.

“I have my arm in a sling,” she said in October. “I can do some normal day-to-day tasks. I can’t lift a gallon of milk.”

Nevertheless, Kerr said she didn’t quit, and she overcame the challenge. She said she still was able to perform, to an extent, adding that there was a song in which she could spin her flag and hold it at her side.

She also found creative and alternative ways to perform her captain duties. For instance, she said she took an active role in band fundraisers, such as helping raise $1,400 through bottle returns and raising around $600 from her workplace.

“There’s more than spinning that I was able to do,” she said. “I was able to help my coach in that aspect — make sure our work looks clean, more watching and helping roles. I was able to use my right arm.”

Kerr thanked her teammates for supporting her and being there for her. Sometimes, they’d share techniques on how to perform with one arm, she said.

Color guard coach Myah Grimaudo praised Kerr for adapting and pressing forward, despite the injury.

“She knew all the work, and she would appear at every practice and helped the girls as best as she could,” Grimaudo said. “She had a solo, which she just figured out a way to make all of her tosses with one hand. She is very dedicated.”

Although the color guard still takes part in events like parades, it has no more football game performances right now, Kerr said. As to the remainder of her recovery, she said she wasn’t sure about the timeline, but she no longer has to wear the sling. And she is interested in staying involved in the color guard program, even after graduation.

“I thought about coaching next year,” Kerr said.  

Learn more about Utica High School by visiting www.uticahigh.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-2200.