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Marching Cavaliers Seniors Finally Victorious

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Marching Band 2k17

Marching Band 2k17

Marching Band 2k17


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Coming into the 2016 season, the Marching Cavalier senior members had attended four band competitions, and had not placed in the top three even once. Granted, the competition had always been tough. They had become accustomed to participation trophies and disappointment.

The senior Cavaliers attended their last Marshall University Tri-State competition on October 8th, one of the biggest and toughest competitions in the state. Bands (some which had up to 400 members) from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio came to perform their halftime shows in front of half a dozen judges and a full college football stadium. As they had in the previous years, the name “Greenbrier West” was not called when the AA band awards were given. Their only comfort was in the fact that they had placed fourth, the highest they had in years.

The following week was filled with lengthy practices in both rain and unseasonal heat for the entire band.

A week later, the Cavaliers attended the West Virginia University Band Invitational in Charleston for the first time. This was only the second time the band performed at a competition other than the Marshall University Tri-State competition. (The first was in 2014, when Greenbrier West played at the Ripley Competition and did not place.)  

 

The Marching Cavaliers were the third band out of 28 to perform. When they concluded their performance at 11:45 a.m., they still had almost nine hours until the awards ceremony.

Most were unsure how the performance had gone; they each had a different idea of how it went. Some -myself included- thought it was their worst performance yet, while others found that it was the smoothest. Mrs. Robertson, however, had the strongest opinion of them all.

Our school’s principal had watched every practice leading up to the second competition, and at the end of each run of the show, she would give the band a rating out of one to ten. The highest number the band had earned from her was on Friday afternoon, and it was only an 8.5. As the Marching Cavaliers left the field at competition, Mrs. Roberton -the band’s self-proclaimed number one fan- shouted out, “You got a ten! You got a ten!”

Spirits were high, to say the least.

It was a long, tiring day full of watching their many amazing competitors and fellow band geeks perform some fantastic, colorful, and deeply emotional marching shows. Several bands -including the Richwood Lumberjack Express, still recovering from the loss of their school and most of their equipment to the flood in June- received standing ovations from the stadium crowd. Luckily for the Cavaliers, they were not competing against these much larger bands.

After all of this, the time had come. The awards had arrived.

Drum Major Amber Clark stood on the field as Greenbrier West’s lone representative should they receive any awards. The other members of the band waited not-so-patiently in the stands for the AA awards to begin. The first award was for marching, the one thing that most of the Marching Cavaliers were not confident in at all. However, the judges thought that they did better than the band thought, because, for the first time in these kids’ lives, they heard the words, “First place… Greenbrier West!”

Everyone with the band rose to their feet and screamed their joy. Everyone was hugging and congratulating one another. The Marching Cavaliers’ joy was not short-lived. They went on to earn second place in music, and, most importantly -partially because it was the biggest trophy, and partially because it was the greatest honor- second in overall AA bands.

This was the first time Greenbrier West’s marching band earned significant trophies since before 2010. The band’s success has been attributed to several things: the skill of this group of players, band director Mr. Sims, the band’s dedication to practice, the competition, and sheer dumb luck, to name a few. No matter what caused it, the community, the school, and Cavtalk support and congratulate the band on being so awesome.

I was one of the people who immediately burst into tears when we won, but before you call me a wimp, hear me out. I cannot describe the feeling that came over us all in that moment. During summer band, we log a minimum of 35 hours a week for a month. That, times four years, is over 560 hours that senior band members spend practicing in summer alone. Add in weekday and weekend practices, and by the time a person graduates after four years of marching band, they have spent nearly 600 hours outside of class on the field.* Doing that for three years only to receive participation trophies is very discouraging. Knowing that my fellow band geeks and I have not wasted weeks of our lives for nothing is just such a great feeling.

*This is my math:

 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday= 7 hours x 5 days =35 hours per week

 35 hours per week x 4 weeks (1 month) = 140 hours per summer

 140 hours per summer x 4 years of band camp = 560 hours for 4 years of summer band

 

 

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Marching Cavaliers Seniors Finally Victorious