Commentary: Its “Go-Band-Go”
I’ve got to admit that for years I only thought that the only good and practical use for a high school football field was for tossing pigskins and earning your stripes as a local, 4-year legend. It was my belief that the band was little more than a sideshow to what really kept the stadium lights on—football. Well, all that changed recently and I’m not afraid to admit that I am wrong and I’m not so stubborn to refuse to change my way of thinking on the matter.
You see, this year our child is a freshman at Flour Bluff High School. He’s been going there for some time now and he loves his band and school. He also loves football and he isn’t afraid to go out there and score touchdowns with his freshman teammates, either. When he expressed interest in doing both freshman football and Marching Band my list of objections were longer than most. However, after juggling schedules and some long family discussions we decided that for this year, at least it would work.
Mornings and evenings were filled with music from Flour Bluff’s “Dark City” routine that they would perform throughout the Marching season. Nearly every single day for the last 3 months a sweat covered 14 year-old boy climbed into the car smelling like a cow and tired from his hours of practicing in the band hall and on the hot pavement that is adjacent to it. Nearly everyday I listened at Band Director Victor Lara coach and instruct his kids with the same vigor as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Chris Steinbruck. Drum majors working on their precision routine and getting ready for the biggest 8 minutes of their lives. There was an excitement in the air each and every day that certainly matches that of their brothers across the street.
Each Friday night was a dress rehearsal for the Marching Competitions, which are UIL sanctioned events. Each Friday night at halftime was more than just a sideshow—it was all business.
Even to an untrained eye, it quickly became evident that this year's “Dark City” routine was not going to go very far with Flour Bluff. The chatter among band fans and even participants became concerned and just like with the football team, the worry began to get even more real with every Friday halftime show and the performances of the opposition bands.
Last week was pre-UIL competition hosted by Calallen. It was also the Homecoming dance for Flour Bluff. Because, of course mums trump music notes, our band would have to perform ahead of the others in our region that night so we could hustle home for Homecoming Dance 2019.
This week was different. Waldron Road near Lumpia House was lined with supporters holding signage of all kinds. The band was ready, some fans were, too. They would at the beautiful Phil Danaher Field in Calallen United in harmony knowing each in their own minds what difficulty would lie ahead.
I showed up, not knowing what to expect. I would flash my UIL badge to the cop guarding the gate. I’d make my way to the bleachers to near the press box—right near the judges table just like a football contest. It was far from it. By the end of the nearly 6 hour long competition I had learned that this was not football—it was band.
The host, Calallen would go first doing a version of “Painted Black” complete with props and all. Flour Bluff would come out second and the chatter wasn’t good.
“I was hoping for more,” a voice said from behind me. Another chimed in about making sure the “flags got noticed.”
For us Hornet fans it would be a long night—but we didn’t care.
But by 9:30 a cheering section from Moody had found their home at the spectator 50 yard line. They were blasting loud and the judges apparently took notes.
And then when it was all said and done and the decisions were being made, it was those same Moody fans that started a wave, started band taunts and encouraged yelling across the field. It was Moody that brought the electric and lightened what was a very serious 20 minutes while we waited.
Cell phone flashlights came on across the field and chants and taunts came from every which way. Harmless fun that you didn’t expect, all in the name of school pride and band spirit. Our Hornets would conservatively join in and soon others would, too. Finally, the results came down from above in what could have been at that moment, a godlike voice from the Heavens.
“Calallen 1,” the voice from the sky would say. An electric cheer would roar through the painted black coastal Texas sky.
“Flour Bluff 2,” the same voice would continue, followed by a light and nearly sad participation point style applause.
“Tuloso-Midway 1,” it said again, this time met with thunderous applause. On and on 11 more times it would read off the schools and results each to a thunderous response—except for Miller and Flour Bluff, who had just duked it out on the gridiron not 24 hours earlier. Tonight, this would be their end and a somber end it was.
But on this Saturday night, though it was about winning and losing, it was about the kids and the equally hard work that they do. Their dedication and precision on display like the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds of their air.
This season taught a guy who knows not how to read music nor play an instrument of any kind to appreciate the Band and for me it’s “Go-Band-Go!” right alongside “BTHO…. somebody.”