South High band wins top honors at USSBA championships

November 20, 2002|by JANET HEIM

Green and white were the colors of the day Sunday.

A very jubilant South Hagerstown High Rebel Marching Band returned to Hagerstown early Monday morning, bearing four large trophies. The band had just been awarded First Place at the USSBA Circuit Championships - Group IIA in Allentown, Pa., on Sunday evening.

In addition, the band earned trophies for Best Music, Best Marching and Best Overall Effect. The icing on the cake was the U.S. Marine Corps Esprit de Corps Award. This is a performance award that goes to the band that best exemplifies the values the Marine Corps looks for in bands, namely confidence and precision.

Tony Domenico, 31, band director, attributes the band's success this year to the students and their hard work.

"Each year, the students strive for more excellence. We compete with ourselves and try not to compare ourselves to other bands," he said.


The band has competed in this competition for seven years under the direction of Domenico. He also credits the two field commanders, senior Lauren Meyers, 17, and junior Emily Keller, 16, for their leadership.

"I'm very proud of those two," Domenico said.

Before their performance, the band huddled and was reminded by Domenico of who they are and how far they've come. The new Eminem song "Lose Yourself in the Music" also served as inspiration.

South High's marching band, 120 students strong, performed in pouring rain against nine other bands. The band had returned to the bus to get out of the rain, while the field commanders and Drum Captain Matt Miller awaited competition results with Domenico.

The first place award was announced last, making for a long wait.

"It was so awesome when we ran up to the bus with the championship flag and trophies to let everyone know we had won. Everyone was crying and screaming," Meyers said.

For Meyers, along with about 25 other graduating seniors, it was the ultimate way to end their high school marching band careers.

"I was upset handing in my band uniform for the last time last night. It was emotional, but a great way to end," she said, fighting back tears.

Since August, the marching band has been perfecting their field show, with two weeks of band camp, then nine hours of after-school practices each week. Marching band is now considered an extracurricular activity, which means all practices are after school. This is a change that Keller feels helped the band succeed.

"Everyone who was in marching band really wanted to be in it," she said. "We have kind of been living here during marching band season."

Meyers compares the rigors of marching band to athletics.

"We've had injuries just like in sports. Some of the football players say we practice more than they do," she said.

Adds Keller, "We practice like slaves, even in the rain. Mr. Domenico is tough, but it's worth it in the end when our name was called last at the competition."

Next year, the marching band faces even stiffer competition. As a result of its first place finish, it moves up to the II Open Division and will compete against other award-winning bands.

For Meyers, marching band has "pretty much been my life. It's one of the greatest experiences I've been involved in and I'm going to miss it."

It was a great weekend for South High. The football team defeated Dunbar 42-0 in the opening round of the state playoffs on Saturday and then the Rebel Marching Band capped off the weekend with its championship performance on Sunday.

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