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Band students ahead of the pack

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By Calen McKinney

It's with a heavy heart that I write this column and reveal something I never thought I would ever say publicly.

I'm a proud alumna of the Campbellsville High School Marching Band and both enjoyed and dreaded my years of participation with the school's concert, jazz, pep and marching ensembles.

But I have to say that I'm proud of the Taylor County High School Marching Cardinals this marching season and enjoy hearing the familiar echo of their instruments when leaving the News-Journal office.

They have already had lots of success this year, and I'm glad and wish them continued success.

Even a few years ago, I could not have said that.

I guess my pride in CHS is a bit strong and I have trouble admitting that the TCHS band, which was once my fierce competition, is very talented. Truth be told, they have always been good.

Ever since I gradated from CHS seven years ago, the sound of a drum cadence has always triggered something in my brain.

I instantly remember marching in the rain and hot sun, the sunburn and seemingly permanent tan lines, the friendships I made, the feeling of winning a competition and being yelled at for making a small, but very noticeable, mistake.

I also remember the long bus trips to competitions, the absolute dread of the start of band camp, the glorious feeling of air conditioning and my own bed after that long week of band camp and all the blood, sweat and tears that it took to survive the marching season.

For those who haven't been a member or involved with a marching band, you probably don't - and can't ever really - know what I'm talking about.

If you have, then you know exactly what I mean.

Marching band becomes a part of you. You live, sleep and breathe it.

Even today, I still live my life with the principles I learned during my time marching for Dan Imes, former CHS band director.

I'm always early for everything. After all, if you're on time, you're late.

I truly know that hard work is worth the prize and it definitely does pay off in the end. I'm also more appreciative of the people who help you in life. Without the "pit crew," the band surely would have not have been so successful.

I learned that I (at that point) was physically capable of much more than I thought after marching in the hot sun, cold winter and varying types of rain.

I was so disappointed to learn that CHS wouldn't have a marching band this year.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the CHS band was a force to be reckoned with. Back then, the CHS and TCHS bands were huge rivals.

To the band, performing at football games was just a warm up for the next day's competition. I remember people telling us the only reason they went to the game was to see the half-time show. It's sometimes still a big reason I go to Campbellsville University's home football games.

The CHS band in its heyday nearly always made the state semifinals' competition and was lucky enough to make it to the big show a few times.

I will never forget marching in Commonwealth Stadium for the state finals' competition. While we didn't win, I'll never forget the sound of our show echoing from inside that stadium. I'll also remember that night forever because I have never been so cold in my life.

My high school years wouldn't have been the same if I had not participated in the band program. I don't regret the late nights, sacrificing my summers and nearly all of my weekends and enduring the grueling practices. I also don't regret the person marching band helped me become.

I'm only sorry that some CHS students won't get that same chance.