Marching band finishes season with bronze medal at state marching contest

Marching band finishes season with bronze medal at state marching contest
New Band Director Jeff King is congradulted by assistant David Brandon and former band director Tom Shine after finding out that they were named third in the state marching contest. (Erika Torres photo)

At 1 a.m in the morning Nov. 2,  over 300 band members, 60 chaperons, eight charter buses, ten directors and countless other supporters of the Marching Band arrived in San Antonio.  At 10 a.m., with a vast green field in front of them, the band  took center stage in front of five judges at the 2010 5A Marching Contest to perform their show “Every Time a Bell Rings…” They were welcomed into the  Alamodome by thousands of spectators yelling their names and cheering as they march onto the field for their performance in the preliminary round of the contest.

“The show is amazing,” senior Elise Villareal said. “We’ve all worked really hard and it’s all been worth it just to be here at this contest.”
This is the 32nd year that the band has advanced to the state level of competition and this time finished third out of the 36 bands present. The band also came home with an experience that other bands across Texas dream of. Members of the band don’t take their experience at the contest for granted and feel blessed to have the opportunity to perform at the state contest.

“I think we’re very lucky to be part of such a wonderful band program that excels in marching and concert playing,” junior Eric Ludwig said. “It’s been proven over the years and it was proven again this year.”

The underclassmen in the band had never experienced a State Marching Band Contest. The acoustics and turf in the Alamodome are different than that of Panther Stadium, where they are more accustomed to playing in. Despite these differences the underclassmen tried to stay focused.

“I watched the drum majors a lot more and tried harder to keep count better than I usually do,” sophomore Alan Becerra said.

This wasn’t a new experience for only the underclassmen of the band. Every experience at the contest is different, but for director Will Pitts, it was a completely new opportunity. He hasn’t had previous experiences at the state contest like the other directors.

“That was my first experience in Duncanville at a state marching contest so I do not really have anything to compare it to,” Pitts said. “But I felt like we were extremely prepared for this contest.”

Members of the band went into the performance remembering the countless hours they put in to make it to this level of competition.

“At first with all the nerves it was hard to focus. Then the adrenaline started rushing through me because I wanted to win,” sophomore Elena Elliott said, “I was more focused than I had ever been because I was doing something I had worked really hard to achieve.”

After a short rehearsal the band returned to the Alamodome to watch other bands perform and  wait for the results from the preliminary competition which came in after 5 p.m.

“I almost passed out waiting for the results,” sophomore Lauren Effiom said. ”It was some really intense moments.”
Clenching each other’s hands and waiting for the final verdict, the students were overcome with anxiety. Hearing name after name called, none of which being Duncanville, the students held tighter to each other. After waiting through the announcements of every other band to advance to finals the marching band was the last band to be called to advance to finals. With hugs and some tears of celebration, the  Band felt relieved they were one of the  top ten bands in the State of Texas finishing fifth in the prelims.

“I was extremely relieved when they finally announced us as finalists. Waiting to hear the results felt like forever,” sophomore soloist David Daniels said. “I was happy that we were going to preform in finals, especially since we were the last band to perform.”
The directors knew the results from the preliminary contest before the students. They made the decision not to inform the students of the results and to enjoy the students’ reactions to their placement in the marching finals.

“There are benefits and negatives in telling the kids the results. We all talked and decided that it really wasn’t important to tell the kids,” Brandon said, “The main goal of prelims is to get the top ten. And it’s great to see the reaction on the faces of the kids. That’s the reason I do this job.”

The band received the last performance time of the contest. The directors of the band were pleased with the performance time that the band got and were looking forward to the advantages of playing last.

“I felt very good. Going last is the best place to be because we will be the last thing everyone hears,” director Jeff King said. ”I was very excited about our final show.”

After learning of their advancement to finals, the band had time to rest and eat in the charter buses at the Alamodome before their next performance. Members of the band said they felt comfortable and confident going into finals.

“We were a more close knit group this time,” junior Nick Nickerson said. ”We had a lot more confidence in ourselves and in our band than the last year we went to the finals.”

The directors weren’t stressed going into finals, claiming they were prepared and the band had already achieved their goals for the season.

“All my goals were met before we even went down to San Antonio. This group really demonstrated the work ethic in order to create a product that is of that quality,” Brandon said, “Even if we didn’t medal I honestly felt like Area competition demonstrated that the band got everything I wanted them to get out of this year. ”

After their finals performance, members of the band came off the field with tear streaked faces and smiles spread wide across their face. Some students got in a line to embrace Brandon to thank him for his work and dedication to help make them the best they could possibly be.

“That’s the reason I do all of this,” Brandon said, “There’s nothing more satisfying.”
The band went straight off the feild from their performance into the stands to hear results from the finals performance. Although the band did not win the contest, members of the band were happy with their 3rd place finish and so were the directors.

“I shot up in the air. I was just elated. There were probably ten to fifteen bands there that could have been in finals, and out of those there could have been five or six that could have been in the top three. To finish third in that competitive of a field is just a huge accomplishment,” Brandon said, “I’ve been there when our name hasn’t been called and it’s not fun knowing how much work you put in. But to hear your name called in recognition of all the work you’ve done is just great.”

Members of the band took more from their experience at state than getting a gold medal. Although the band placed third, members are satisfied with their results. Seniors of the band were sad to be done marching, but happy they ended with a good experience.

“This whole experience was bittersweet. Marching band has been my life for the past four years and this was a good way to end it. Looking back at how hard we’ve worked and seeing how the show impacts the audience is more satisfying than getting a first place vote from a judge,” band president Liz Kenworthy said. “That’s just one person, when we see our parents, and even people we don’t know, and parents from other bands in tears from our performance that’s better than any judge’s comments, or any rankings, or any first place medal. This year’s show was something else.”

See more photos from State contest here