Band Fan: Gaining a Whole New Perspective
Help the Marching Vikings
Going to high school football games for me always meant two halves of action, split by a halftime, when going to the concession stand, chatting to other fans or the bathroom was uppermost in my mind.
Usually, a band playing during that halftime, with color guards swirling, as a background to the milling crowd that had much the same idea as me: food, bathroom and talk.
But I discovered different when I started going to Union Pines High School games. Fans actually kept their attention on the field - a field pulsating with percussion, brass and pageantry The Marching Vikings could put on a show.
They still do.
But there were two things I never realized about the Marching Vikings, or any other high school band for that matter: one, how much effort and practice a band engaged in, and, two, Friday night was just a prelude to what really drove the band members - participating in Saturday night competitions.
I can remember David Seiberling, the former longtime Union Pines band director, encouraging me to come watch the Viking Classic, a Saturday night competition that featured bands from around the state lumbering all their gear to Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium for a daylong competition.
It was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing: a competition for bands. Call me uninformed, but I never really had much exposure to what a high school band program was all about. I thought they just went out on Friday night to play at halftime of a football game and participate in a few local parades.
Now, I've got a son who plays for the Marching Vikings and, believe me, I've learned what is involved in being a member of a band.
Admittedly, I haven't been involved in the behind-the-scene workings, the long hours that not only the band, but also a large cadre of volunteers - mostly parents - dedicate to the program. Those parents deserve a big thank you from the Union Pines community. They are the unseen backbone of the band.
And the time the band members put in is unbelievable. Let's just say a band, like rust, never sleeps. And it's to avoid that rust that the band puts in the hours it does.
Summertime, and the living isn't easy for band members. They practice in the heat for hours at a time. They go to band camp, where they are immersed in practice 10 hours a day. When school starts, they are out there practicing after school for several hours at least three times a week.
And the pride that is built up by that dedication, and the friendships made, are something that can't be overlooked. There are 140-plus members of the band, which equals more than 11 percent of the student body at Union Pines. They are there because they want to be, and they are there to be the best they can be.
They've already proven their mettle in the early-going of band competition.
In both the Pinecrest Band Fest and the Western Harnett Screaming Eagles Classic, the band claimed the top honor offered at both events: Grand Champion, meaning they achieved the highest score of any band participating.
I'd be remiss not to mention that the Pinecrest and North Moore bands also participated in these events and also did their respective schools proud.
There is more to come for the Viking band, both under the Friday night lights at home football games and in Saturday competitions.
I would encourage any one who has never seen a band competition to circle Oct. 23 the calendar. That is the Saturday when the band will be the host for the Viking Classic, which is one of the band's biggest fundraisers of the year.
As I've said before, I never attended one of these events until my son started playing with the Marching Vikings, but do I get a kick out of it now. It really is a spectacle. And judging by the large crowds that fill the stands at these events, I'm not alone in enjoying the show.
Anywhere from 12 to 22 bands from across the state will be at the events, and all take the field to present their program, with twists and turns and props all lending to the entertainment.
Then there is the music itself, and the multitasking these performers engage in. Just think, not only are they playing musical instruments or twirling flags, but also they are doing this while marching intricate patterns across the green expanse of the field.
Although I've talked a lot about the Marching Vikings, I also have to admit that it has changed my whole outlook toward halftime at football games. No longer do I think about concessions and bathrooms, or chatting with other fans. Now, I turn my gaze back to the field and watch the band, no matter what game I'm attending.
Those performers out there deserve the utmost respect and recognition. They've earned it.
Contact Hunter Chase at email@example.com.
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