With over 20 years of experience within the winter guard activity as a designer, instructor and adjudicator, Joe Sowders has a long list of accolades. Currently the Director of Marketing/Sales Manager at FJM, Joe established himself working with Mike & Mark Miller during their years at Miamisburg High School and Miller’s Blackhawks (1988 through 1994). He then moved on to Northmont High School and produced some of their most memorable productions (1995- Somewhere, 1996-Wall and Remembrance and 1997-Dante’s Inferno).
Many will remember Joe’s work with Nolan Independent of Texas which produced back to back A and Open Class Champions (Anne Frank-1998 & Rite of Spring-1999). 1999 also marked Joe’s return to Miamisburg High School with the beautiful “On an Ordinary Sunday” program.
Joe then moved to the Pacific Northwest to become Program Coordinator and designer for the Northern Lights Youth Programs. His influence there made an immediate impact as both the Open and the World ensembles jumped up competitively with each placing 5th at WGI Finals in 2000.
For Joe’s first 4 years the NL World Guard was co-ed, and produced remarkable presentations (Profination-2000, This is Your Life-2001, Chaos & Order-2002 and War Letters-2003). But in 2004, a decision to make the guard all-male was a large turning point in Northern Lights, and WGI history.
Undoubtedly, most people will remember NL for their all-male years. The 2004 production of Road to Perdition caught many by surprise. The show was designed completely “in the round” so it could be enjoyed from any angle it was viewed. “I wanted to take advantage of the shape of the arena in San Diego” Sowders said, “which had no true home side like UD arena.” The show had a clocklike perfection that was mesmerizing. And from the cinematic soundtrack, to the FJM/Cesario suit-like costumes, to the three dimensional look of the circular cloud floor; this show provided the audience a true theatrical experience.
Northern Lights went on to produce two more all-male productions with “The Shawshank Redemption” in 2005 and “Meditation: In Memory of John Lennon” in 2006. Both of these presentations received tremendous acclaim, and solidified Northern Lights as a program that will always be remembered… and missed.
Joe currently designs for World Class programs Braddock Independent, Zydeco Colorguard and Centerville High School. “Throughout my WGI experiences, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with and learned from the best people in the activity” said Joe. “The Miller family is why I got involved in winter guard, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to teach so many wonderful kids for all these years without their help and guidance. Any success I’ve had is a direct reflection of them.”
Director of Marketing/Sales Manager
937.434.1121 ext. 1210