This Saturday, the Delaware Hayes Grand Pacer Marching Band will travel to Kings High School in Kings Mill to compete in its last competition of the year.
The band previously travelled to Lebanon High School on Sept. 29 and took home fifth place in its class as well as best percussion and best pit crew. They also competed at Centerville High School on Oct. 27 and were award fourth in their class and 11th place out of 21 bands.
Band Director Andy Doherty said this Saturday’s competition, the Mid-States Band Association Championship, will include 19 other marching bands from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and it is the biggest performance of the year.
“I’m confident,” Doherty said. “It’s a really strong group of kids, and we’ve really put in a lot of strong work in the last few weeks to max out the show. I’m really confident in their abilities. I know regardless of what happens at finals, we are going to go out and have our best show of the year.”
Doherty said the percussion section has been having a great year and praised its discipline.
“Percussion is having a really strong year,” Doherty said. “It’s a lot of returning people. We only have one or two freshman, so they’ve been working really hard. It’s a really percussion heavy show, and they’ve really committed to making it as good as they can. It’s really special to see it all come together. It’s nice to see them get some recognition for the work they’ve put in.”
Doherty said the band performs Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m. and then will wait until 4:15 p.m., when it finds out if they made finals.
“If we make finals, we’ll basically sprint back to the bus, get in uniform and go right to warm up,” Doherty said. “We’ve made finals in the past couple of years, and we’re hoping to do that again, but it’s a tougher competition this year. The only thing I know to expect for sure is that we’ll be at our best on Saturday.”
Doherty added the end of the band season is “always bittersweet.”
“This is such a great group of kids,” Doherty said. “This is only time of year where the full band, the concert band, symphonic band, percussion, guard, this is the only time we are all together doing the same thing. So it always kind of sucks to end, because I like spending time with this group. Definitely bittersweet.”
Likewise, senior flute player Peter Ash said the end of his final marching band season is “bittersweet.”
“I’m pretty relieved, but at the same time, I’m going to be kind of sad,” he said. “It’s bittersweet.”
Ash said the championship competition is his favorite of the year, because every band has had an entire season to learn and perfect their show.
“You just get to see what they’ve worked on all season,” Ash said. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m pretty confident in myself.”
Ash said he’s a little sad to have his marching band career come to a close, but he’s happy to move on to the next thing.
“I’m kind of relieved that it’s coming to an end, and I can close the book on it,” Ash said. “It’s been a lot of progress. Over these years that I’ve played, my personality has gotten better, and when I started, I didn’t know how to play flute at all. Now, I’m first chair in the district. It’s been a pleasure being here over the last four years.”
Lizzy Childers, a junior clarinet player in the band, said Tuesday that this season has been “the best year of marching band so far.”
“This is my second year as a section leader, and I love everyone in my section. They are so hardworking,” Childers said.
Childers added she was nervous but also excited about Saturday’s competition.
“I’m a little nervous because the other bands are really good, but I think that we can really pull it together,” she said.
Childers said after Saturday’s competition, she’ll only have one more marching band season left.
“I’m looking forward to setting a good example,” Childers said in regard to her final season next year. “I remember the seniors from my freshman year, and I’m still really close with them.”
Childers urged any interested students to join the band.
“It’s as competitive as any other sport,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. We are just a big family here. If anybody is thinking about joining band, I definitely would.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.