The Delaware Hayes Grand Pacer Marching Band will be heading to the marching band state finals at the end of the month after receiving a top score at a band competition last weekend.
Band Director Andy Doherty said that in order for a band to qualify for state, it must receive a score of “one” at any local Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) competition. Doherty said the band received a “two” at its first competition of the season and improved its score to a “one” last weekend at a competition at Licking Valley High School.
“(Getting a ‘one’) felt great,” Doherty said. “I’ve always had a lot of confidence and faith in this year’s group, but you never know what it’s going to be like going in front of judges for the first time in two years. Thankfully, the judges saw the things in students that I’ve seen all year, so it worked out for us.”
Doherty added he was initially nervous at the start of the season since both the freshmen and sophomore members of the band had no experience marching in a competition show, but he believed in their abilities after seeing how hard they worked during band camps over the summer.
“That was a thing I was stressing was how do we get this group on board and confident in such a short amount of time,” he said. “(Relearning) the little things really helped, and I asked them to trust the process and do their best. The process paid off, it was great. Basically, from the second week of summer onwards, it’s felt like a normal year. They’ve stepped up in a really big way.”
Doherty said the band will be adding the final movement to its show “Villains” and will be adding other elements to the show before the state competition on Oct. 30.
Members of the band said they were proud to qualify for state finals.
“I was worried the band would lose a lot of momentum from COVID, but we haven’t lost any of it,” said Elijah Shireman, a senior tuba player. “The band has done a really good job of taking this situation and making the best of it. This summer, we pushed through and kept going. We have two new classes marching and you can’t tell. It’s very nice.”
Senior trumpet player Madison Bricker agreed, adding the band is already better than it was two years ago despite two classes being new this year.
“The motivation I’ve seen in the underclassmen is unlike anything I’ve seen in band,” Bricker said.
Michael Cheney, a senior clarinet player, said Doherty focusing on fundamentals this year benefited the whole band, not just the new members.
“We’ve had to focus more on basics and learning to practice again, but I would say that’s definitely paid off,” Cheney said. “Now that we know how to practice again, we’re making a lot of progress.”
Lindsay Cooke, a bass drummer, said the band has “a really young” drumline this year, and she’s proud of how fast they’ve learned.
“Seeing literally everyone on the drumline except for two people learning everything brand new and catching on really fast because of the drive they have has been really nice to see,” she said.
Senior clarinet player Zach Ward said the year has had many challenges aside from the pandemic, and he’s proud to see the band adapt and overcome.
“It’s impressive,” Ward said. “(The challenges are) not just from COVID. We’ve had delays in drills and music, and we just keep pushing through. I’m impressed with how quickly the band is learning and memorizing, and moving forward with this.”
Looking ahead, Zane Soliday said he’s not very nervous for state finals after how he felt performing again this year.
“With the first competition, I was nervous, but when we got on the field, I was just excited to be back at it,” Soliday said.
The band will continue to practice after school for the rest of the month.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.