Penn Hills-based colorguard/drill team enjoying success

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 6:48 p.m.

The Lincoln Park Community Center's Youth Achievers After-School Program is living up to its name.

The MWAV Kingdom Soldiers Arts Ensemble, an independent colorguard/drill team formed in January, finished in first place in its division at several National Judges Association Tournament of Bands competitions, took first in its class at a Feb. 1 Three Rivers Winter Ensemble Association competition and attended the NJATOB's Atlantic Coast Championships in Wildwood, N.J., this past weekend.

While many high schools have district-organized colorguard/drill teams, the MWAV Kingdom Soldiers is one of the independent teams that also competes, coach Henry Sowell said.

“We've been to eight competitions so far,” said Sowell, a Wilkinsburg resident.

The group, comprising 12 boys and girls mostly from the Penn Hills area, was funded as part of a $50,000 Heinz Foundation grant to the Lincoln Park Community Center.

“The grant was to help us incorporate physical education and nutrition into our programming,” said Darlene Sow, site director for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Family and Community Education Services program at the center.

“When we were looking for volunteers and ideas, Henry popped up and said, ‘Count me in!' ” she said.

The majority of the team is between 9 and 15, an age group Sow said needed more options at the center.

“We constantly have parents asking us to help find another activity for them,” she said.

Parents also stepped up, Sow said, coordinating transportation to competitions.

At present, the program is a pilot, and the Heinz Foundation grant, which was used for other programming as well, has run its course.

Sow and Sowell are hoping the team's success will lead to expansion.

“If we can pull this off and get funding to continue, the sky's the limit,” Sow said.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

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