Keller Marching Band Places Ninth at BOA San Antonio


Meleah York, Assistant Editor

The Alamodome parking lot is lit by bright lights, shadows casting across feathered plumes and the nervous faces of hundreds of kids. The uniforms they wear are a sauna in San Antonio’s nighttime humidity. Sweat beads down rosy cheeks and around widened eyes, while hearts pound anxiously for the coming performance. But here, below the buzzing of the lights, under the brims of shakos and the K’s across their chests, the Keller High School Band enters the warm up area with the sole intention of making their final performance of “Sense of Direction” nothing less than the best one all season.

The Keller Band participated in the Bands of America San Antonio Super Regional competition at the Alamodome the weekend of November 4. Though they had entered this competition in the past, making finals and earning thirteenth place for the past two years, the stakes at the 2017 BOA Super Regional were higher than they had ever been before. Many highly-esteemed bands were competing in San Antonio, such as returning champion Flower Mound, and powerhouses Marcus, Hebron, and Claudia Taylor Johnson. Even Avon High School from Hendricks County, Indiana, made the long trip. With these bands and countless other honorable organizations, Keller went into the fire knowing that prelims might be their final performance of the 2017 marching season.

Keller assumed their role of only competing for themselves, putting forth the greatest amount of effort for the people beside them. They didn’t worry about scores or placements; they were only concerned with performing like it was their very last time, leaving everything on the field without any regrets. And that’s exactly what led to their mic drop in the preliminary round of competition at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday.

After riding on a bus all night and performing so early, the band headed to a local gym for some much needed and well-deserved nap time before going back to the Alamodome for finals results. Mixes of emotions filled the silent, hazy air as they sat in the stands that evening awaiting results, which were called in random order. “Marcus High School. Flower Mound High School. Claudia Taylor Johnson High School. Cedar Park High School. Avon High School.” The list of availabilities in the top fourteen finals spots was winding smaller and smaller, and through the ringing ears from the cheers of other bands, Keller was beginning to accept that they were not going to make finals.

Keller High School was called second to last, finding out later that even with an incredibly high score of 90.40, they had just barely scraped by, making fourteenth in prelims. Screams of excitement filled the stands. Keller had made finals at the most competitive Bands of America competition to date.

Finals performances for the Keller High School Band are blanketed with a comfortable and excited energy, and the main focus is to execute a job while having fun. With emotions so high for the very last performance of Keller’s 2017 season, band director Ryan Heath reminds everyone to have their hearts on fire, but minds on ice. The band enters the field with silent, brisk intensity, eyes trained on the drum majors as their hands count them off, pristine white gloves tracing triangles into the air.

The Keller Band placed ninth at Bands of America San Antonio, moving up five spots in finals. But even with the celebration, the swelling of hearts, the matted hair streaked with sweat, each and every member of the Keller Band was smiling at one another, sharing memories and exhaustion, wanting to soak up every fragment they could of that moment.

Junior clarinet player Olivia Escamilla recalls her weekend at BOA San Antonio. “Everyone had huge smiles on their faces, especially the seniors. Seeing how proud they were of their final performance in the Keller Band really stood out to me.” She goes on to describe her thoughts of the marching season. “This season made me see that if I believed in myself and my peers, we could do anything together, even if we thought our goal was a lost cause.”

Freshman bass clarinet Nicole Phillips also comments, “I learned from being around my section that hard work pays off, and what I put into the show is what I get back out of it.”

As the Keller Band heads into their concert season, each member carries the beautiful memories of this past marching season and the ways they fought for the people beside them, working for an accomplishment bigger than themselves the only way it can be achieved: as a family.