The Nation Ford High School Marching Band and its legion of supporters doesn’t have to wait until next year’s planned performance in Hawaii to bask in the sun.
The students, director Martin Dickey and his staff all marched home from the recent 4A State Championship with first-place medals around their necks. Champions for the fourth time in five years – the school opened in 2007 – Nation Ford was determined to win the title since coming in second to Fort Mill High by a fraction of a point a year ago.
Then, dreams of winning another title may have seemed to fade after a disappointing third-place finish at Upper State on Oct. 19. Seemed to – but not for this group.
After Upper State, the Nation Ford Band took a gut check and “Undeniable” became the word of the week.
“We needed to have a show that was undeniable, to force the judges to give us the high numbers,” drum major Jonathan Drake said. “We had to work hard, to outwork everyone else if we wanted to win a state title.”
The theme and title of this year’s show was “The Ancient Art of War,” inspired by ancient Mediterranean styles of war. The music was original work commissioned by the band, and the show featured a percussion ensemble in the front and back of the field instead of marching a traditional drum line. Spears, shields, and sabers were used to depict war.
“If you’re going to be creative, you have to be willing to take risks,” Dickey said.
Undeniably, they succeeded.
Fort Mill took a chance
The Fort Mill High School Marching Band took risks this year, too, most notably deciding not to compete for a state title. Instead, Fort Mill competed in the Bands of America Super Regional Championship in Atlanta and earned a spot in the finals. Fort Mill placed 10th overall, with only 2.5 points separating seventh through 12th place.
For both schools, the season-ending competitions caps a grueling schedule that begins in early summer. Football players aren’t the only ones out there working and sweating in the sweltering heat. Like their gridiron counterparts, band members not only have to learn their individual assignments, but how to function in unison as a team. To do it to the degree that gets a band just within sight of a championship is impressive enough.
To find the intestinal fortitude to push the performance up a notch or two higher is what separates champions from the field. Nation Ford found that resolve, and we couldn’t be more proud.
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