We all know that guy. That superstar high school quarterback who threw the last-second touchdown pass in the championship to secure a state trophy and cement himself in his alma mater’s lore.
Maybe he goes on to play college ball. More than likely, he moves on to a different career entirely. But all the while, those days, those good ol’ days, occupy a proud, comforting spot in his heart.
For me, those high school memories were born on the football field — but through an entirely different activity. I’m a card-carrying marching band geek and spent four years competing with a nationally ranked high school band from St. Louis. For many, August means preseason football and the birth of a new season.
For me, it’s the beginnings of new high school halftime shows. Football, schmootball. Give me the bands!
This past week, I had the privilege of checking out the band camps at Durant, Plant City and Strawberry Crest high schools. At each school, student musicians were red-faced and tattered from hours in the Florida heat, their eyes bleary from information overload. On the other side, band directors, their staffs and student leaders were focused on the basics — all the minute details that separate the good bands from the great ones.
Word to the wise: If you’re one to head to the concession stands at halftime, change your plans. These kids put considerable effort into producing these shows, and they deserve your attention.
And yes, it’s much harder than it looks.
Just ask the parents, siblings and friends of the student musicians at Durant. As part of the school’s band camp, Director Chris Satterfield hosted a preview night for families. But before the show began, he and his band pulled a switcheroo. The musicians headed into the bleachers to pull one of their loved ones out onto the field to take their spot.
After just a few instructions, the family members attempted to perform just a few measures of music and movement — with hilariously abysmal results.
Marching band is an activity that demands much more than musical talent. It’s paying attention not only to stepping on the beat of the music but also how high your toes are when you step. For a drummer, it’s making sure the heights of your sticks are exactly the same as the four or five other drummers around you. And for color guard members, it’s throwing a solid-wood rifle into the air, watching it spin multiple times and catching it perfectly in sync with the music and at precise angles.
Marching band requires patience, perseverance, discipline, attention to detail and an ability to execute under extreme pressure. The goal is a perfect, inspired performance.
And when you think about it, that’s not all that different than any athletic team.
So, to all of Plant City’s marching band members: the Plant City Observer wishes you the best of luck in the upcoming season.