The Road To A Championship

The road to a championship is not an easy one. It is filled with sweat, tears, injury and heartache. At times it is filled with disappointment, yelling and more pushups than you would care to count. Coupled with all of this is determination, pride, self discovery and victory.

The Pride of Hennessey has experienced all of this and more on their journey to Jenks.

If you didn’t know, this is a band that is made up of students starting in 7th grade through 12th grade.  So to say this is a very young band is hitting the nail on the head.  Some of these kids learned how to march this year, are playing music on a difficulty far above what their grade dictates they should be, and some have learned an instrument from the ground up.  They have faced adversity, knowing their assistant director is fighting cancer.  They have risen before the sun, marched in the dark and have done it all with one prize on their minds:  Marching in finals and winning State in class 2A at the OBA marching championships.

This season kicked off in the end of July with band camp.  This is where these band students started getting their minds and their bodies in shape for the marching season to come.  If you have never been part of a marching band, then you won’t know that it is as much of a sport as football or basketball.  Your body has to be conditioned and to be able to endure holding an instrument in certain positions for long periods of time.  You have to stand at attention and not move, showing massive self control.  And then, you have to be able to play that instrument, keeping your pitch in tune, hitting all the right notes, and maintaining specific angles with that horn.  All of this also applies to the color guard, who have a daunting task in controlling their flags, no matter if the day is peaceful, or if Mother Nature brings on massive winds.

While preparing for Jenks, this journey has taken the Pride to many football games, most of them away games on Friday nights, and different contests on not only Saturdays, but some weekdays as well.  And while we would like to say that it has been victorious every step of the way, that hasn’t been the case.  But in this band mom’s opinion, not being victorious all the time is where this band has built it’s character from.  It’s what stirs them to reach deep inside themselves and bring out the best from within.  Taking 3rd at the Perry Parade and with only our Color Guard placing at the OKC State Fair Parade showed these kids that it’s not given to you, it’s earned.  That you can’t just show up and expect to win, you have to show up and leave it all on the street or field.  After two parade competitions, it was time to bring it to the field at Putnam City.  This would be the first OBA contest the Pride would march in.  Not only were they the only band in their class, they were the smallest band in the competition. But this little band went out there and showed them the super heroes that live within them and took out a 5A band, placing 10th.  Their next contest would be in Konawa.  After finishing up with the ball game the night before, the band had to be at the band room at 4:45am to head out for both parade and field competition.  Being an OSSAA contest they are listed in the small 3a category for field.  This year, the Pride turned it up as they took 3rd overall in parade, which is 2 rankings higher than last year.  The Color Guard took outstanding for the 2nd year in a row for parade, and the Pride defended their 1st place for field by capturing it for the 2nd year in a row.  With only a few days until the next contest and a hardcore practice, the Pride set off for Tri-State in Enid the following Tuesday.  This would be another self defining moment for the Pride as they were competing more against themselves to do better than the Excellent (2) rating they received last year than against the other bands in their class.  When the awards were announced, the Pride was the only band lower than class 6a to receive a Superior (1) rating this year.  These are the few weeks leading up to the goal that was set at the beginning of the year for this band.  To go into Jenks and to make finals at OBA Championships.

Saturday, October 8th came very early after an away game at Chisholm.  After a very long bus trip, the band had to be ready to bring their A game to the field at 10:30 am.  The wind was beyond horrible, right before they were to take the field, the judges on the field had issues with their recorders, the Pride was the rookie band….it seemed the cards were stacked against them.  But then, when they took the field, the wind died down some, and our little band stepped onto the field like giants and OWNED the performance that mattered the most.  And when the preliminaries were over, and the dust had settled, not only did the Pride make finals, but took the awards for High Visual, High General Effect and most important, became the 2011 OBA State 2A Marching Band Champions.  At the end of the day, The Pride placed 12th out of 22 bands and was the only 2A band to make finals, the first in many, many years.

It would be nice to say that this is where the story ends.  They won State, they’re all done, but they aren’t done.  This coming Wednesday, the Pride travels to Alva for OSSAA Regional Marching contest, will continue to cheer on the Hennessey Eagle football team every Friday and on November 2nd will travel to Lawton for the final field marching competition of the season.  They will continue to pursue excellence in their sport, because it’s not over till it’s over, but as they continue on, they can hold their heads high and proclaim, “We are the Champions, my friend.”


**UPDATE**  The Wednesday following State, the Pride traveled to Alva for OSSAA Regional Marching Contest.  Not only did the band receive a Superior (1) rating, they swept with all 1’s from the judges.  After completing the field show, the Color Guard had solo and ensemble competition.  Vanise von Shultes and Rebecca Roberts both received a Superior (1) on their solos and the Guard was awarded a Superior on their ensemble as well.


My Heroes Are Band Kids

It’s not a coincidence that this year’s marching theme is “Super Heroes”.  During band camp each student chose their own super hero name and have been working hard to capture the spirit of Superman, Batman and Spiderman on the field.  And while we may think that it takes super strength or flying to be a super hero it might surprise you to know that all it really takes is to have a compassionate heart.  The students who make up The Pride of Hennessey not only showed that compassion, but also dedication, honor and as it states in their name, pride.

Right now, the band is going through a difficult time learning to deal with and understand the hardship that Bradley is going through.  Not only is this a hard path for Brad, but it is for the Pride as well.  It’s not an easy thing to grasp, understanding what it means for someone you care for so much to have cancer.  Not at the age of 13…..not at the age of 30.  And in the middle of all the emotions, these kids are trying to stay focused to not only keep up with their school work and sports they are also trying nail down a field show and parade marching technique.  And they are doing this without a key member of the team.  Lingering in the back of their minds while trying to focus on their daily routine is the fact that their friend is lying in a hospital bed fighting an extremely hard fight.

So now, I’m going to brag on these students just a little bit.  Last Saturday the Pride had their first contest of the season in Perry.  After they got home, they were right back at the band room in the evening, watching film and then hitting the street for more practice.  But that’s not all they did.  Every section recorded a get well message for Bradley, and every student in each section sent him a message letting him know how much he means to them and that they hope he gets well soon.  And through the power of this wonderful invention called the internet and facebook, Bradley was able to see those videos the very next day.  The following Monday, the band traveled to the State Fair to compete in the parade, and while the competition didn’t turn out as favorable as the band would have liked, that performance was NOT the most important one of the day.  That afternoon, the Pride went to OU Medical Center to visit with Bradley and perform for him.  And while he has heard the songs many times, I’m sure that THIS time was, pardon the pun, music to his ears and the most amazing and wonderful performance he had heard this group of kids perform.  Adding to how special the event was, Channel 9 news made this the story of the day and Channel 4 showed up at the hospital as well.  This performance meant as much to the kids as it did to Bradley.

True super heroes come in the form of woodwinds, brass players, percussionists and color guard teams.  They also come in the form of band directors and everyday people who show compassion to those in need of it.  We can’t fix the situation, and we can’t be in Oklahoma City every day, BUT we CAN keep posting notes of encouragement on a facebook page.  We can record a video and upload it to youtube.  We can tie an orange ribbon on the antenna of our car and wear one as a symbol that Bradley is not fighting cancer alone.  Most of all we can pray for our friend.  It doesn’t take a super power to make a super hero.  It takes a compassionate heart, and I’m so proud to be a band mom of so many awesome super heroes hailing from Pride High!

Seeing Orange

We always want to believe that it will never happen to us or someone that we are close to.  But the hard honest truth is, cancer is no respecter of person.  Facts are, someone dear to everyone connected to the band is back on the front lines of that battlefield.  Stronger fact is, he is not alone, he has an army of people standing with him, praying for him.

Bradley is not just Mr Steuart’s assistant, or just the bus driver, or just a photographer.  Bradley is an amazing individual who goes out of his way to make sure that things within the band are running smoothly, who is constantly helping within his church, and who is a true friend to everyone he comes in contact with.  He is one of the greatest people that you will ever meet, and I hope he knows how well he is thought of and how much he is appreciated.

I hope that every person who takes the time to read this will post an orange ribbon on their facebook page and take a moment to make a post of encouragement on Bradley’s.  And Bradley, if you are reading this, I just want to extend a personal thank you for all the work that you have done day in and day out to help make the Pride of Hennessey a better band.  You are an important factor in the equation for greatness.  May you get well soon and be back with us as soon as you are able.