Go Four It

Band Places First At UIL 5A State Competition Fourth Time in a Row

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Photo by Emi Cachila

Standing tall, drum majors and color guard display their first place medals with pride at the UIL State Competitions for band. This is the fourth year in a row that band has been awarded first place in the UIL 5A competition. “This is a huge accomplishment for our band, as it is now our fourth consecutive state championship and our sixth overall. Each year, this contest gets more difficult to win, as every band keeps progressing,” drum major and junior Nicholas Doluisio said. “We are so happy that our sister schools were able to finish on the podium as well, as we know they’ve also worked incredibly hard.”

Isa Morgan, Reporter

The early mornings and late nights full of endless practices have paid off, as band finishes off their competition season with a back-to-back-to-back-to-back win at the State 5A UIL competition. Although this is the fourth year in a row placing first, drum major and junior Nicholas Doluisio said that this year was especially different from the perspective of a drum major.

“I have been able to witness this journey since the first day of summer band, and we have come so incredibly far,” Doluisio said. “Although I am proud of bringing home the gold, I am even more honored to have seen the growth of our program throughout the season as we rose to the top.”

Even though the expectations were set high for state results, the energy when first place was announced was buzzing with excitement, according to color guard member and sophomore Sofia Campos.

“When they said Cedar Park as first, we all just started crying, and that feeling felt really good and the best feeling I’ve ever felt,” Campos said. “It really changed my whole perspective on being on guard.”

Before this year, band had a three-year streak of placing first in the UIL competition. According to drum major and senior Olivia Cohen, placing first again this year was a main focus for the band and caused tension because of the high expectations.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Cohen said. “A lot of people expected us to continue our streak, so the energy from the band was very focused the whole trip.”

During the state process, band heavily felt the pressures of defending the state championship title, according to junior Eliana Garza. This year was especially challenging with the competition from their sister schools, Leander and Rouse High School, Garza said.

“We have a title to defend that the other schools don’t, which puts a lot more pressure on our community,” Garza said. “ But what feels great is that we showed up, and I’m glad I got to do it with the people I love.”

The task of defending the title also acted as an obstacle in the band’s process causing lots of frustration throughout the program, according to Doluisio. By switching the focus to doing the best they can instead of the placement they will receive, the band was able to come out on top.

“In the past, there was a lot of pressure put on us to continue our winning streak, which frustrated a lot of people if we would ever place behind one of our 5A competitors,” Doluisio said. “This year, however, we took a different approach to the state contest by focusing more about our quality of performance rather than our placement. After the run, I felt that we were undeniable. I knew we had full potential of winning, and I was very relieved and proud to have been a part of yet another state championship.”

This year’s State competition was at the Alamodome in San Antonio. According to Campos, the feeling of performing in such a big space was an indescribable experience.

“The field was giant and the crowd was completely full,” Campos said. “People were standing and pushing themselves over the fence and there were people who were up against the wall and so like that made me feel a lot more pressured to do better.”

With a bigger crowd than their usual audience members, the band felt pressure on doing their best and put band members under a lot of stress, according to Garza.

“I feel like there is so much more pressure defending the state championship title and it’s like everyone else has you know a fight, like Rouse and Leander they can fight for it but we have to defend it I feel like that’s a lot harder,” Garza said. “I [was] a little nervous for everyone else like the freshman and the sophomore that have never been to a UIL state marching contest or anything like that.”

After placing first in Preliminaries, the band’s focus shifted to the State UIL competition. With sister schools close behind band in past competitions, such as Bands of America held in Waco, the band made sure to do their best to put on their best performance, according to Doluisio.

“There are amazing programs we competed against like Rouse, Leander, Wakeland, and Highland Park who work so hard just like us,” Doluisio said. “We knew we had a job to do and that was to give our best performance to prove to the judges that we deserved every point we got.”

The band prepared for this competition with two-hour practices after school and practice performances during halftime at the varsity football games.

“Recently with band we’re practicing a lot, like crazy,” Garza said.” it’s been all band they tell us to focus really hard on band, it was the first priority we’ve practiced outside during the school day during class and we also rehearse after school all day,”

Along with preparing for and putting in lots of practice toward State, band members must balance school work with the limited free time, which is difficult, but manageable, according to Snyder.

“Managing band with all my other classes is extremely hard especially [with] late nights after school and basically something every weekend,” Snyder said. “It’s something you have to get used to just getting all your homework done on time and staying up later and stuff like that.”

One of the many things band members looked forward to was their time with their peers during the State trip, according to Snyder. She said that many friendships are made in the program, which is always beneficial during these competition trips.

“My favorite part about going to the State is definitely just the experience of performing in the Alamodome with the people that I enjoy the most,” Snyder said. “I really just like being with my friends without your parents for a few days, it’s a lot of fun.”

The marching season has officially come to an end with these recent competitions. According to Garza,  students are upset about the season coming to an end.

“It’s definitely a bittersweet ending to the marching season, and I think a lot of people would agree with me,” Garza said. “ I love the time spent with everyone but I am also so excited for my time back, for my grades to go up, and to hang out with my friends outside of band.”

The amount of time and effort the band has put towards this competition has paid off, and the feeling of placing first yet again was expected but surreal, Campos said.

“It’s weird like I’m still in shock I guess,” Campos said. “I had full confidence that we would win but I mean rouse was really good and they were very close behind us their score was always five below ours so I was really scared but knowing that we were like the best band in texas was a really cool feeling so I was like I’m part of the best band in Texas.”

This win was a very big accomplishment for everyone included in the band, and emotions couldn’t be contained when first place was announced, according to Cohen. Knowing that the state championship title had been successfully defended was enough to bring tears to band member’s eyes.

“Once our name was called it was emotional for everyone,” Cohen said. “We all hugged each other and even shed tears because we were so proud of all of our work paying off.”