Sheri McGinnis Aquilina

Class of 2013

Sheri McGinnis Aquilina

Sheri McGinnis came to the Santa Clara Vanguard from the Pacific Northwest in 1975 to try out for the rifle line in the fall of that year.  She and her best friend loaded up their cars and drove to California in the heat of July, not knowing what to expect, and she has never regretted that move.  

Coming from humble beginnings in the Spartans Drum & Bugle Corps of Vancouver, Washington, she was very excited when she was accepted into the rifle line, and thus began her lengthy career with the corps.  

In the summer of 1977 Sheri had her first experience with instructing when the color guard instructor for the Vanguard unexpectedly quit prior to the summer season.  Sheri, along with a couple of other members, ended up completing the show and became member/instructors, working with the color guard while marching and helping bring the corps to a top 3 finish.  This was her first taste of instructing and she found out that she liked it.  

In the winter of 1978-79 Sheri began teaching the winter color guard at Sunnyvale High School and, along with the rest of the winter guard staff, was instrumental in bringing the Royal Sabre Winter Color Guard into the national spotlight, making finals in the highest division of Winter Guard International both years they attended and winning both the California Color Guard Circuit Championships in 1980 and 1981, as well as the WGI Western Regional Championships in 1982.  During that time she also taught both the SCV B Corps Winter Color Guard and the Conquistadors Drum & Bugle Corps in 1979 and 1980.

Sheri was approached by Gail Royer to instruct the Santa Clara Vanguard A Corps Color Guard for the 1981 season.  She was elated to do so and the color guard went on to win Best Color Guard at the DCI World Championships that year with the corps, once again, becoming the DCI World Champions.  

Sheri went on to teach the Vanguard color guard for the next 10 years, from 1981-1990, during which she helped to create many memorable shows, with the color guard winning countless color guard caption awards.

After retiring from teaching the Vanguard in 1990, Sheri’s contributions to the color guard community continued and stretched over the next 2-3 decades, working with several high school band and color guard programs in both California and Hawaii.

Sheri’s involvement with the Vanguard didn’t end when she retired from instructing the A Corps, however, as she continued to volunteer her time in various capacities with the Vanguard over the years, including opening her home to numerous marching members from both the Cadet Corps and the A Corps, serving as an officer of the alumni association, being a member of the Vanguard Historical Society Committee and the Vanguard Hall of Fame Committee, as well as countless hours of instruction for the alumni corps projects in 1997, 2002 and 2017.  

Over the years Sheri went on to judge color guard in various areas of the country and also provided color guard clinics in many areas as well.  She has also mentored young instructors and is very proud to have been a part of the color guard community since the early 1970’s.  

Sheri is extremely thankful to have been a part of the Vanguard family over the years, both past and present, and will always treasure her time spent with the organization. 

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