In the rain and drizzle, the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band was on their practice field early Saturday morning, preparing for their contest at Goodpasture High School in Madison, Tennessee. The students were focused and ready to do whatever needed to be done to guarantee a great performance!
If you’ve been keeping up with the band over the years, you know they have done very well at their contests. However, one thing has eluded them. In the past five years, they have been unable to make finals in marching contests where preliminary and final competitions were judged. Year after year, the band would come very close, and in some cases, they would miss the finals competition by only a fraction of a point.
When the band entered Goodpasture’s field for preliminary competition around noon, huge sections of the field were nothing but mud. The field had been rain soaked the night before and was in very poor condition. As the band marched to their position to start the show, Band Director, Jonathan Wright, outwardly warned the students of the condition of the ground. “Be careful, this field is in rough shape,” he said. “We’re the first band of the day to perform, so the condition of the field is as good as it’s going to be all day long,” he continued. “It’ll only get worse from here.”
After the preliminary performance, the students returned to the buses to clean the mud off their shoes and uniforms. Mr. Wright gave them a quick critique of the show and said, “We have given our best and that is all we can do. It’s in the judge's hands now.” The students put on dry clothes and returned to the stands to watch some of the other bands in the contest.
The preliminary part of the Goodpasture Cougar Marching Invitational was broken into classes. DCHS was competing in Class A, the smallest class. All bands are comparable in size when divided this way. A band would have to do well in “prelims” competition against all other bands similar in size to continue on to finals competition. However, in finals, all bands compete against each other, regardless of size.
After all of the bands had performed, the students of the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band heard news that they hadn’t heard since The Division II State Contest in 2004. The DCHS band would be among the top eight bands in the finals competition on the very same field they had placed five years ago. “Making finals is a very big deal for these guys,” Mr. Wright said. “The last of the 2004 students graduated last year, so none of these students have ever made finals in a competition. This is a very big accomplishment.”
The Goodpasture Band and Boosters decided that the condition of their field was much better on the visitor’s side, so while the finals bands were preparing to perform a second time, they asked the audience to move to the other side of the field. A few minor adjustments of how to get the band’s equipment on and off the field had to be made. The DCHS Pit Crew, a dedicated bunch of Band Supporters who help get the sideline instruments on and off the field, really put their time and backs into this contest. Rather than the luxury of using the trailer and John Deere tractor to move equipment, they had to move the huge pieces one at a time. The condition of the ground simply would not allow the tractor on the field without damaging it further.
The results of the preliminary competition and finals competition were announced later that evening. The section leaders of all competing bands gathered on the field to hear their placement.
In prelims, Field Commander, Hunter Tramel won 1st place in Class A. The DCHS Band placed 3rd in Class A behind Kenwood and Houston County High Schools.
In finals competition, The DCHS Fighting Tiger Band fought their way to 6th place against bands that were much larger in size. Mr. Wright said, “We made some big improvements from prelims to finals and the results showed it. We beat one of the bands in a bigger class, plus we beat a band that had beaten us in prelims. This has been a very successful day for us.”
Despite fall break, the band now makes preparations for their next couple of contest performances. The 14th Annual Highland Rim Marching Contest will be held on October 24th at Westmorland High School, and The Division II State Competition will be held at Independence High School on November 7th, which will also be a prelims/finals competition.
In addition to the contest performances, the DeKalb County Fighting Tiger Band also plans to perform at the DCHS Football games against Upperman High School on October 16th, and Livingston Academy on October 30th. During the October 30th game, there just may be a Halloween surprise, so you might want to make plans to attend.
To find out more about the Band or how to become a Supporter, log onto www.DekalbBand.com or check them out on FaceBook.