Personal Column: State Marching Contest leaves lasting memories on drum major

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At the final football game of the season, a group of parents made signs for the band.(Olivia Davila photo)

I stood with my fellow drum majors on the 35 yard line in the Alamodome. I looked up and saw thousands of people in front of me cheering and clapping for all of the drum majors for the best bands in the state. We were anxious to hear our school’s name called to advance to the 5A Texas State Marching Contest finals. We passed words of excitement back and forth and stood tall as we debated back and forth about how we should be standing. We were optimistic and confident. Then we became worried.

At the final football game of the season, a group of parents made signs for the band.(Olivia Davila photo)
In 2010 Duncanville was called last to perform in finals because we drew the last performance time. The announcer named bands to advance to finals this year and as he got closer to the last spot all of the Duncanville drum majors felt a little uneasy. The last band was called. That final name was not Duncanville. We all froze. Certainly there was a tie and by some chance there was going to be 11 bands in finals. There was no way Duncanville was not advancing. The announcer dismissed the drum majors and we all snapped back to reality. We were invited back to participate in finals competition at 8 pm Nov. 6.

My walk off of the field is a blur. Somehow we found our way to the tunnel leading outside. I did not look at any of the other drum majors. I took off my hat and walked as fast as I could, knowing tears were soon to come. I refused to cry in front of the other bands’ drum majors. As I walked further I realized that my other four teammates were next to me, certainly as dazed as I was, reflecting upon the season and all of our hard work. Suddenly all of our sacrifice felt like it meant nothing because there was no tangible proof recognizing our commitment.

Finally we made it back to our buses. David disappeared, needing time for himself. The three other drum majors and myself stood between two buses and we fell apart. We clung to each other for support, knowing that although there were 375 other students experiencing this loss with us, only four other people who could truly understand our emotions. We each felt personally responsible for this failure. I run through scenarios in my mind of what more I could have done or helped with. Of course there is nothing more we could have done as a drum major team. We served our band, and we did our very best job, but thinking logically was lost in our cloud of emotions. I made myself sick. We took turns embracing each other with hot tears and heavy breaths sticking to each others’ necks. David returned and we stayed in the same place for at least 30 minutes grieving as a team.

The four people standing around me sharing my grief become great friends during the year. We started our journey together five months prior and grew into a confident, strong team. We sacrificed hours outside of marching band trying to perfect our conducting patterns. We raised our voices, got angry and were critical of each other, but through all of the frustration and hurt feelings grew a very unique friendship.

Before working together as a drum major team, all five of us did not particularly dislike each other. Our social circles crossed paths and we enjoyed each others’ company, but never went out of our way to see each other outside of school or band. By becoming a team, our friendship was almost inevitable. Sometimes I felt like I saw Lauren, Ashley, David and Jazmin more often than my family. I am so thankful and blessed to have worked with four completely different, yet so uniquely beautiful people. I learned so much about myself from each of the other drum majors, and I will always be grateful for the love they have shown me through marching season and continue to show me through my senior year. I came to this realization as the rest of the band returned to the buses. I felt my heart in my throat as I watched so many students with red eyes and blotchy cheeks walk toward me. I prayed they all had time to reflect like I had, and like me, were starting to grasp the true purpose of building a marching show- learning how to work with others toward a common goal, build lasting relationships, and to learn about life.

I was strongly reassured as the band all came to a stop in front of the charter buses. The entire group collapsed into a tight mob as friends embraced each other tightly and reminded each other how much they care about each other. Several students came up to me hugging me, and telling me how thankful they were to have me as a great drum major. I felt beyond humbled. Students were thanking me. I deserved no thanks. I became a crazy woman weeks before my audition for drum major. I spent hours practicing and analyzing my conducting pattern, focusing on what I could do to make myself stand out in the audition. I wanted nothing more than to be a drum major, and here were students I had barely spoken to, maybe only to tell them something not even necessarily positive, thanking me.

I would be lying if I said I was not depressed. There is no way to take away disappointment on such a colossal level as this. But my experience outside of the buses made that disappointment just a little sweeter. We stood as a band and knew the performance we gave the state of Texas was absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We walked off of the field in preliminary competition feeling lifted and confident. We knew our performance was beautiful, inspirational and spiritually moving- the judges just did not see what we did. We brought together 375 people from different backgrounds, worked together and created a product that we are extremely proud of. Every person on the field relied on the person next to them to perform, and perform they did. This experience taught me that our hard work does not always have the pay off we expect, but sometimes we see the reward in the people around us. Relationships- new and old, strong and steady or newly blossomed- mean more than a title or a small circular piece of metal.

It took me until November to come to reality and realize I actually was not in a dream. I actually am a drum major for the Duncanville High School Marching Band. There are no other students, directors or drum majors I would have rather shared this life changing experience with. We are a 375 piece family, in every sense of the word. Pride truly does make the difference. “There ain’t ever been, or ever will be, a band like a D’ville band.”