The future is bright.
I know this, because I witnessed the future in action last Saturday at the Colorado State Marching Band finals, and it was a beautiful thing.
Marching Band is exhausting. Grueling. FUN. When it all comes together, marching band is a party. One created with blood, sweat, tears, stress, exhaustion, and the euphoria of a job well done.
There was a lot of pride within the Air Force Academy Stadium where the State Championships for 4A and 5A Bands took place on Saturday, October 29th. It’s a big deal to make State. Not all make it. These kids compete most weekends in September and October, working and building their programs. Pushing themselves harder and higher, they reach deeper to find ways to improve programs that start out incredible. For two bands in District 20, the previous weekend was spent in St Louis at the Bands of America Super Regional competition. Both came home determined to keep working, to keep pushing.
Liberty and Air Academy, both from District 20, have been rivals on the marching field for awhile. Air Academy always managing to stay on top, Liberty fighting to catch them, coming up just short. Semi-finals at state would be no exception. Air Academy out-scored Liberty by 0.85 points. That’s a CLOSE competition.
We watched in the stands, blown away by the performances as always. These kids work hard, and it shows every time they take the field.
They announced the awards from 8th to 4th place, leaving the top 3 until after the other top awards. Top Visual: Air Academy. Top Music: Liberty. Top General Effect: A TIE!! Liberty and Air Academy.
To every parent watching in the stands, we were breathless and on the edges of our seats. Usually those awards give us a clue as to who will take first. But a TIE?? That is a very rare thing…
They announced third. Our nerves stretched a little further. The announcer broadcasted the score for 2nd place. Then he repeated it. Something I’ve never heard before. It was a high score. But still, for who?? AIR ACADEMY.
The stands erupted. I’m not sure who cheered more wildly. Air Academy parents or Liberty parents-knowing in that moment Liberty had taken first. It was the end of a 6 year streak for Air Academy as they’ve won 8 of the last 9 years. Liberty has been chasing Air Academy so long, always coming so close, wanting so badly to claim that top spot they could taste it. This night they did it. They achieved that goal in spectacular fashion.
But the true beauty of the day was about to unfold before us. The Air Academy kids could have been angry, frustrated, felt robbed of an expected victory. They could have pouted and stomped off the field. They had been lined up for the win, the 7th in a row. It would have been understandable.
What unfolded before our eyes instead was a celebration by BOTH bands. There were heartfelt congratulations and teary hugs. There were cheers and wide grins, on the part of BOTH bands. Within moments of the official announcement (Liberty beat Air Academy by 0.05 points! And in doing so set a state record for the highest finals score, 90.30), there was a huge sea of white plumes on the field. One white plume, two band uniforms. Moments later, THREE uniforms under that sea of white plumes, as Rampart Marching Band tunneled through the band from Loveland to congratulate their district rival. You can study the photo, but it’s hard to make out the individual uniforms within the party on that football field.
That’s good sportsmanship. That’s grace. That’s CLASS.
It’s a beautiful thing.
All of these kids gave their all on the field: heart, soul, ambition, drive, enthusiasm, and boundless spirit. One team won by 0.05 points, and when the scores were announced they hugged and congratulated each other like good friends genuinely happy for each other.
Those kids have incredible parents, teachers, mentors, and role models. In that moment , they modeled what we hope to teach our kids about how to act when you give it everything and still don’t take home the gold. They rose and showed incredible class.
Liberty has been the incredible little engine that could. They started out their season taking 3rd at the first competition. Every week working harder, pushing harder, adding new things to their program, fighting to make an even better program. Each week, each competition, they improved. We the parents are beyond proud. Hearing your name called as State Champion is a moment we will not forget. Knowing how hard you worked for it, seeing the incredible results fills us with pride. It was a stunning upset, but you have been stunning us for much longer than just that moment.
Air Academy, you showed everyone what class and graciousness looks like. Wear your medals with pride. You worked hard for them, and earned them in an incredible fashion. But you’ve won our hearts for how you handled not taking the top prize, our hearts and our respect in a whole new way.
Yes, I’ve seen the future. These kids showed us all what the future looks like.
And the future is BRIGHT!!
Congratulations to ALL of the Marching Bands of the Colorado Springs area that competed at State. You are all remarkable, and deserve recognition for all your hard work and dedication. Congratulations!!
Liberty High School – 1st Place
Air Academy High School – 2nd Place
Rampart High School – 4th Place
Mesa Ridge High School – 8th Place
Pine Creek High School – 10th Place
Harrison High School – 7th Place
The Classical Academy – 3rd Place