SSHS band earns top marks at UIL contest Tuesday
Regional marching test only first leg in race for UIL swepstakes title
By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor
Oct. 23, 2008 - The Sulphur Springs High School Marching Band may have been the last to play on the field, but their performance was top notch at Tuesday's Region 4 UIL Marching contest in Mount Pleasant.
"It was a great day," said Charles McCauley, SSHS band director. "The students gave the peak performance of the year. Everything just really came together."
A judge from Duncanville, a school that's won or been a contender for the state marching title a number of times, practically gushed about the SSHS band's performanc, McCauley said.
"He was extremely complimentary on his sheet, which was filled with all pluses and exclamation points. He was really knocked out," the SSHS band director said.
At practice earlier that day, McCauley urged the students to follow the old sports axiom "Leave nothing on the field." And excel they did, becoming one of only two bands to earn straight first divisions ratings, an affirming reward for 2 1/2 months of hard work.
"What it did was give credence that hard work does pay off, that if you work hard you can be one of two outstanding bands to earn straight first divisions," McCauley said. "It was a good, affirming performance.
He said having the largest cheering section -- composed of family members, friends, teachers and community members -- only "spurred them on."
"Before they go get out and set up, the crowd was going crazy for them," McCauley said. "We are so fortunate to have the support we have from parents. We have the best booster club around.
"It was a huge deal and a good day," he added. "The directors were satisfied. The kids were proud of themselves. They did no one more proud than our staff.."
McCauley said the students' dedication and desire to learn and improve are largely responsible for their successes.
On Saturday, the students had earned first divisions at every category at the Parkway contest, where the band was ranked third overall and the percussion section was named the most outstanding percussion group. Both the Parkway contest Saturday and a meet held last week were good practice for the students, showing them areas to work on before the UIL meet.
"We came back and were nit-picky with them. They kept wanting to learn and do better," McCauley said. "I couldn't hope for better."
Just because the regional marching contest is done, the students won't be slouching. They're working toward bigger things, such as preparing to try out for concert bands in the near future, and they consider the two previous and Tuesday's UIL contest only the "first leg toward the UIL sweepstakes we're going to try to get again," according to McCauley.
They'll also continue working on their craft while performing for local fans during the halftime show at the two remaining SSHS home football games -- the upcoming match against Mount Pleasant this Friday and again on Senior Night, Nov. 9.
The show, which they've been working on all season, features the music of The Beatles. The first tune, "Lady Madonna," showcases an ensemble of players, including Cooper Welch, Kaci Mohan, Chance Adams, Eddie Arciga and Andrew Wallace. The second song, "Paperback Writer, features the whole band. The halftime show continues with Eddie Arciga playing a solo trombone spot during "Hey Jude," then Heath Robinson strums his guitar during "Revolution."
"There's a lot to entertain," McCauley said. "I anticipate no drop-off in performance."