Area high school band members are getting ready for the bright lights of the football fields while practicing at summer band camps.
The Memorial High School Bulldog Band has more than halftime activities and contests on their minds. With one of their year’s goals to perform at Grand Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind., in late fall, searing heat and blazing skies aren’t frying their spirits as they prepare for the coming school year.
More than 200 band members are as prepared as they can be to fight the high temperatures and the sun baking the turf on Memorial’s football field.
“Overall it seems like it is a lot hotter this summer than last,” said junior Tyler Hadley.
Hadley plays the trumpet and said everybody plays different instruments in his family and he just chose the trumpet because he likes it.
With a tent set up and misters running from 8:30 a.m. to noon, band members take rest breaks, water breaks and shade breaks to help cool off during the morning marching practices for the two weeks of summer band camp.
Water packs which can be worn like a backpack can be purchased by parents for between $30 and $50, said summer camp Band Director Adam Basset.
“We practice our visual outside,” Basset said, “and in the afternoon we go inside to practice the music.”
In addition to having a larger number of members this year, Bassett said, “It seems like we got a lot accomplished early in the camp so we are ahead of where we thought we would be.”
Basset added a large number of seniors graduated last year but a larger number of freshmen enrolled in band for the upcoming school term.
“Every year we do an evening where the eighth-graders in the middle schools perform in the stands at a game with the high school band members,” Basset said. “I really think it gets the younger students excited about coming to the high school and being in the band.”
Not all of the band members came from middle school playing an instrument. Drew O’Connell is a junior who has been in the band for three years.
“I have played the piano since I was 5 years old,” O’Connell said, “and I am playing the marimba in the band. My brother, Bryce, is a senior and has always been in the band.”
Drew said the biggest challenges are the difficult level of the music and the heat.
“We are getting ready for Grand Nationals so our music is a little more challenging than normal and I have a big jug of water I cool off with.”
Both students said being in band is like being a member of a large family.
The parent members of the Band Booster Club have supported the band in the past including purchasing a trailer to transport their equipment, a tent and the misters that help the students cool off during the heat.
“They also purchase Gatorade each day for a section the directors recognize as doing outstanding work for the day,” said Mike Watson, a band parent who takes his vacation during band camp to help.
“I call myself the band’s minion,” Watson said laughing. “I do whatever I can to help.”
Although he was never in the band, he and his wife, Becky, who is club treasurer, have two children who are connected with the Bulldog Band. Karli is a graduate who performed with the band and Kody is in the 11th grade.
“It’s all about the kids,” Watson said.
Basset is one of the high school assistant directors during the school year when he is also the band director at Cimarron Middle School. This summer he is filling in for band director Cameron Kedy who is attending National Guard Basic Training.
Kedy has taken over the role of director held by Lynn Ann Feroli while she is taking a leave of absence due to the birth of her child.
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