Oh when the band comes marching in


Skyler Froese

Sweat rolls down the foreheads of 100 students on the football field. They move furiously across the turf with one goal, victory. While it’s logical to imagine the football team, it’s an entirely different set of students going through their paces at 7 a.m. The Emerald Regiment, RBHS marching band, is in hot pursuit of their own victory.
“These are the students who are willing to give the extra time, extra rehearsals and give up some of their summer,” Patrick Sullivan, band director, said. “This group of students is very hard-working and very self-motivated which is very key in creating an excellent show.”
While these excellent shows help entertain football fans, they can also stand alone. Throughout the fall, marching bands across the state compete to decide which school produces the best show.
Drum Major senior Allie Rogers explained that panels of judges on the field and in the stands evaluate the marching bands’ style, music, and how well the marching keeps time. Awards are given out after both preliminaries and the top eight bands qualify to compete in finals.
Drum majors like Rogers are easily comparable to team captains. They are the band’s nervous system, passing information from the band directors to the students and conducting the band throughout the show.
“The band is following you; whether we are performing or not.” Rogers said. “In rehearsals I am always behaving how everyone else should, showing them or guiding them how to act. I’m constantly in the position to be a role model.”
Sullivan said the Emerald regiment consistently does well enough to final at the competitions they attend. During last year’s season, RBHS regularly placed in the top three in their divisions, and in their first competition of the 2015 season they came in first in their division on Sept. 18 in Edwardsville, IL.
“Having so much energy and drive, we do very well,” Sullivan said, “We need to work on always being motivated. If we manage to eliminate slow days, that will take us to the next level.”
While the band is fiercely competitive, they do have their moments of fun on and off of the field.
“The most enjoyable parts are probably the bus rides there and back. That’s really where the people in the band really bond together, get to know each other a little bit better and really just have fun playing games or making jokes,” senior Grant Sykuta said. “Getting to know people is always a really nice feeling.”
While these rides give special bonding moments, they also contribute to the band’s biggest complaint — the extreme time commitment when competition season is in session. Competitions can eat up entire days out of a student’s schedule and practices steal their precious hours of sleep and social time.
Practices do not only eat up mornings and weekends of first semester, but also a student’s summer. RBHS meets in the last weeks of summer to master their music and drills in the sweltering august heat. Drum majors like Rogers lose even more of their summer on a retreat to learn leadership skills to successfully coordinate band.
Nonetheless, the Emerald Regiment still rises early and sacrifices their time to perfect but a few moments of blowing and running on the turf. For them fruits of their labors are more than worth it.
“It’s kind of a surreal moment, to be honest, and it sounds very storybook like,” Sykuta said. “But when you’re out on the field, under the lights performing for judges, it’s definitely a cool feeling, just because you’ve worked so many hours…it just kind of give you goosebumps.”