Monday, November 24, 2008


The word "champion" is defined as being first among all competitors. It is a word that describes fully the members of the Lawrence Central High School Marching Band. According to the last set of marks, they brought home a 3rd place finish in the Bands of America Grand National Championships. In reality, they were winners before they walked through the doors of Lucas Oil Stadium. They demonstrated class, integrity, leadership, teamwork, sportsmanship, and a work ethic that others would be hard pressed to match. It was a tough loss. There's no denying it. This was their season. This was their year. And it has been wonderful to watch this team evolve. They went into this season the underdog. In Indiana, marching band is a fiercely competitive phenomenon. LC has had some success, as I've mentioned before. They've won the national title twice, in 2001 and 2004. They've also had success on the state level. But, last year, as a freshman band parent, I soon realized that two local schools with much larger bands garnered the majority of respect from the local public. Our kids had a good year last year, with a regional win in Oxford, Ohio, and a tenth place finish at nationals. Not bad for a band that was 40% freshmen. But at every competition last season, excluding Oxford, our band consistently placed lower than Av*n and C*rmel.

Our drum majors accepting their

Bands of America Regional award...

This year has been a different story. It all came together for these kids. The show design and choreography were phenomenal. Their music was powerful and engaging. Their talent and energy were astonishing! And, if you read this post, you remember that our season started off with a bang! We had our first doubleheader in September, and the band captured two first place finishes! They competed in two more local invitationals in October and swept all the caption awards and took FIRST PLACE in both of those!!! They worked their way through the four weeks of Indiana's state music competition, and, two weeks ago, brought home the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP trophy!!! This was an especially surprising win! Av*n has had the state title for the last seven years! And last weekend, they swept the competition among more than 30 bands at a Bands of America Regional, with Av*n placing second...LC received all the caption awards and FIRST PLACE!!! To say they were ready to take the national title last weekend would be an understatement!
Winners drink milk!

Thursday's preliminaries started off great! They looked awesome, and we found out after the fact that they were in first place out of 94 bands at the end of the first round of competition. Late Friday, the draw for semi-final competition on Saturday was announced. They drew an early slot, 10 am, which means the kids had to report at 5 am. Which means they started out the weekend on very little sleep. Their performance seemed a bit off...turns out there was an equipment malfunction, and the whole band was off throughout the performance. And you know what? They still scored the highest BOA score our band has ever scored...the highest score of our season...a 96.65 for you band geeks out there. For those of you who have no concept of band scores, that's a FANTASTIC SCORE! They were, errors and all, in second place, with Av*n squeaking into first place, going into finals.

The kids had a long Saturday afternoon back at the school, tired but unable to really rest. They ate, talked, practiced...and waited hours for the finals to be announced. Finally, at 5:30, the 12 national finalists were chosen, and we were scheduled to perform at 10:15 pm...a full 12 hours after our first performance of the day. At each level of competition, the scores start fresh. I prayed that the kids would just perform to the best of their ability. From our perspective, they ran a clean show. No drops, no errors...they were awesome! We really felt like they were going to win. I must say that the competition was stiff. Four bands from the central Indiana area qualified for finals! In the last round of competition, I counted less than a handful of visible errors in all twelve performances. The sounds and the energy level were phenomenal. These bands were on it!

A dramatic end to an awesome show!

Finally, well after 11 pm, after much ceremony, the winners were announced. Remember, we placed 10th last year. It was down to three, last year's winner, L.D. B*ll from Texas, and our biggest rival, Av*n. The caption award for best visual effect was announced as a tie for our school and Av*n. What that meant was that the general effect score would determine the winner. My understanding is that the general effect score includes the volume of sound produced. And Av*n has 100 more kids in their band than in ours. So we were thinking at least second place when it was announced that we were in third place. It was a tough loss.

The buses didn't arrive back at school until well after 1 am. As always, friends and family were waiting en masse to cheer on the kids. As they got off the buses, it was obvious from their crestfallen faces that they took their defeat hard. Let's face it, when you've been on a winning streak, it's hard to lose. But a deeper look told the true story. Even in the face of losing the national title to their biggest rival, it turns out that they were most sad that their season of competition was over. They were proud of their accomplishments, but they were sad that there would be no more daily practices in the scorching sun, the freezing cold or the pouring rain. They were sad that their Saturdays would no longer start off with crazy early report times and end in the wee hours of the next day! They put in extra rehearsal time, they sacrificed much of their summer and even their fall break...and they loved every minute of it! Many a practice ended with someone shouting, "Let's do it again!", followed by a round of enthusiastic cheers.

Tenors and snares....

And there was some good news...they lost second place by one-tenth of a point. And the first place score was 97.75...the highest BOA score ever given. The bar was set high, and they still finished strong. With the scores as close and high as they were, it's safe to say that the top three bands are evenly matched and all worthy of the national title. And third in the nation is an awesome accomplishment! Best yet was the percussion score. They scored a perfect 50. It has never been done in BOA history. And they earned it. The front ensemble performed in two sections over 20 yards apart, staying in complete synchronization! According to a inside source, emotions were running high as they were finishing their last performance, and the entire percussion section shared an emotional moment in the tunnel afterward. I won't go into a lot of detail, considering the section is mostly guys, but trust me when I say that it was one of those moments they'll always remember.

Our awesome drumline...minus a few stragglers at 2:30 am!

That is why, for me, the possession of a trophy does not necessarily define "champion". In fact, I believe knowing how to lose well is required of champions. They are most certainly champions. They are first among their competitors in spirit and character, not to mention talent. They are exactly what makes a parent proud. I am so thankful that I will be along for the ride when the band travels to Phoenix over New Year's. They will march in the Fiesta Bowl Parade and compete in another national level competition. And, win or lose,they will make more priceless championship memories. I'm thinkin' I'll bring my camera...

You can see how we are easily outnumbered...

Now that marching band season is over, you'll hopefully see a little more activity from me here on the blog. I've got a bit of catching up to do...I've got some great pictures from the pumpkin patch and Halloween to share before the next major holiday is upon me! And then there are all those vacation pictures still to share...look at it this'll have sunny pictures to brighten those cold winter days ahead!

Here's a one minute clip of the show. In this clip, you can hear the "pit break". Mindy is playing on the marimba on the far right. It was FREEZING COLD this day! I don't know how the kids even managed to move in this weather! In the next few weeks, a download of the entire show should be available on a local website...I'll be sure to share! It was an awesome show!

Don't forget to pause the music player at the bottom first...

Here's a slide show from our local newspaper from the preliminaries.

They're all great, but photos of LC begin at #51:

View this gallery at IndyStar: Bands of America prelims

Here's a slide show from the Saturday night finals:

View this gallery at IndyStar: Bands of America finals

And, finally, a fairly comprehensive collection of photos from the beginning of the season to it's end...excluding my sadly misplaced semi-state and state finals pictures...I am still holding out hope that my memory card will appear. There are some fairly entertaining photos of Caroline thrown in for comic relief. You should know that she thinks she's part of the band. She repeatedly tells us she wants to play drums and reminds us that the kids in the drumline are "all my fwens (friends)"! Enjoy!

Tons of give it a minute to load...
If it doesn't load, click on "View All Images"...


Donna said...

Way to go Mindy!!!!!! What a great season! Congratulations on a job well done!!
Great clip - can't wait to see the whole thing!!

Kristi said...

I'm glad that the hours of practice in all sorts of weather paid off! I was not part of the marching band at my school, but I had some close friends that were and I know the hours the put in. I know that you hated to see the season end, but I frequently hang on to my favorite quote about the end of good things, "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened!"
Can't wait to see all the Martens clan!