By Chad Peyton, Band Publicity Chairman
VERSAILLES—Last season was a very special one for the Versailles High School Marching Band. It was a season that saw the Tigers reach the mountain top and bring home a Superior rating for the first time in eleven years.
This year they knew they wanted to return, not just to State, but to that peak. They wanted another State Superior. After all, if it had been 11 years between State Superiors, it had been a quarter of a century since the band had last brought one home in consecutive seasons. They set out with a goal and achieved it, and a lot more along the way.
Every season, the band sets out with their eyes on State, and that often elusive State Superior. It’s been that way since 1981 when the very first Tiger Band began competing in OMEA events. But there are other goals along the way. Just as with any journey, there are stops along the way that may provide obstacles or roadblocks. The measure of any team is how they handle them. This year, the band handled them with grit, determination, hard work and, in the end, success.
They began their season by qualifying for State their first week out. That is not easy to do and can be, at times, a curse. You never want to peak too soon, but for this band, they took that success and only wanted to build on it. And that they did. Along the road to State, they never received less than a Superior rating.
“These kids just completed a ‘perfect season,’ said Band Director Ronda Stammen. “They were superior at every contest they attended. I can’t even begin to tell you the last time that happened. The work they put in was second to none. It wasn’t an easy season, and I think they are ready for a break, but they earned every rating and award they received this season.”
It truly was a perfect season. Along with Superior ratings at every contest they attended, twice they received straight Superiors from the judges. They also won First Place in their class at every competition, as well. Additionally, they brought home 3 Best Percussion trophies, 2 Best Auxiliary trophies, 1 Best General Effect trophy, 1 Best Overall Music trophy, 1 Class B/C Grand Championship and 1 Overall Grand Championship.
But they had to work to achieve it all. The weeks leading up to State were filled with rehearsals. Many times they were, no doubt, told, “One more time.” But on a beautiful, fall Sunday afternoon, “one more time” became the last time.
“Backstage, before the kids took the field, I told them that this was it,” Stammen said. “This was the last time they would do this show in its entirety. It would be the last time all of them would perform it together. After this, we may still play it at a football game, but some of their fellow band members would be on the field with the football team. So this was it, the last time in more than one way. Make it count!”. And they did.
After all the bands performed, the reps for the Tiger Band lined up with the other band reps on the front sideline and were awarded with that highest of honors, a Superior (i) rating. .
This is the 17th Superior rating Versailles has earned at the State level.
“They were really on tonight,” Stammen said. “They did everything they needed to do and the judges appreciated it and acknowledged it. More than one judge noted that they should be very proud of their performance and what they did on that field today. And they really should. They ran a great show today. It was fantastic.”
The band then returned to Versailles where they were greeted with fire trucks and EMS vehicles. The buses paraded through town as lights flashed, sirens wailed and horns blared. But above that cacophony of noise were the sounds of cheers, from both the students in the buses and the parents, friends, neighbors and community members lining the streets to welcome them home.
“My staff and I are so proud of them,” Stammen said. “But it’s great to see they have such great supportive parents who are proud of their accomplishments, too. I am so grateful to them for all the work they put in supporting our program and the kids. I am also grateful to the community for their support. I want to thank our village officials who made the decision to provide our band with the escort. Thank you to the members of the Fire Department and the Versailles EMS for escorting us through town. I am not exaggerating when I say, I choked up when we turned the corner onto Main Street and we saw people lined up cheering and holding signs and waving pom poms. Having our kids see the community out to welcome them home was so good for them. The excitement on their faces was unmistakable.”
It’s fair to say that each season brings something different. Each show tells a unique story. Each competition brings new successes or setbacks. But in the end, it’s about the journey, not simply the destination. That journey is the season in its entirety. And this season was stellar. It was “perfect”. And, above all, it was “Superior!”