WEST MILTON — Earlier this month, the Milton-Union Band of Pride hit a huge milestone, making the Bands of America Grand National semifinals for the first time in school history.
More than 100 high school marching bands from around the country converged on Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from Nov. 10-12 for the Bands of America Grand National Championships, one of the greatest spectacles in the marching band arena, Band of Pride Director Zachary Roberts said.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” Roberts said. “It was such a high energy moment. I told them that they need to cherish that. Even if we make it again next year or in subsequent years, there’s only ever a first time one time.”
The competition is a three day, three round ordeal. The top scoring 30 bands, plus the top two bands from each class qualify for semifinals. From there, the top 12 scoring bands, regardless of class, perform in finals.
In order to make the semifinals, a band has to take first or second place in their preliminary performance. The Band of Pride performed Friday evening, the second day of performances.
“We usually gather together to discuss our performance before any ratings come out. I try to emphasize to the students that it’s about the performance, not the results. And the kids felt really good coming off the field,” Roberts said. “And then our name was announced as a semifinalist and we were beside ourselves. We didn’t really see it coming.”
The band performed again Saturday morning — on only a few hours of sleep from Friday’s late awards show and all the excitement, Roberts added.
Milton-Union was one of only three bands from Ohio to make it to the semifinals and, at only 49 members including color guard, took on competitors that were sometimes more than double their size. More than half of the band members are freshmen or younger, Roberts said.
The band was also competing with bands from school across the country, from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma.
This achievement was a reflection of six months of hard work on the part of the students, Roberts said. The students have been learning this show, practicing the music, and drilling the movements since June.
“Definitely a lot of time and effort goes in on their part,” Roberts added.
The staff includes assistant director Julius Huckleby, percussion instructor Brittany Wagner, and color guard director Julie Noble.
The band also took first place in their class earlier in the season at the Kettering Classic, Hamilton Band O Rama, and Miamisburg Invitational. Other awards throughout the season include best music, best visual effect, best general effect, and best percussion. The band was the class B/C Grand Champion at the Kettering Classic.
Reach Cecilia Fox at [email protected]