It may not actually be fall, but to me, it’s officially the season. Each and every Friday is spent on a football field from now until November.
Because my youngest daughter is graduating high school this year, this will be the last year for my fall-time routine. This past Friday was my last first Friday of football. A bitter-sweet moment.
My daughter Alex is head drum major this year. It’s also her senior year in school. When I showed her my saxophone all those years ago, I never imagined she’d pick it up and play, excel, and become leader of her very own marching band.
Yet, here I am. Making sure kids are stepping off with their left, keeping their lines and corners in check and handing out bathroom breaks.
That’s right. I’m officially the keeper of who gets to go. In pairs, never alone. And only one pair out at a time. Don’t ask how I got that job. (There’s a story there, but there’s also a teenage girl named Abby who would rather me not tell it, I’m sure.)
I’ve also been the official band photographer for marching season—every game, parade and cavalcade. It’s amazing to watch a group of kids grow as each week passes. They get a feel for each other, for the music and for having fun. These kids dance like no one is watching. (Sometimes, no one is—many people are more into the football game than the band, but those of us watching love every minute).
I’ve seen seven different classes go through the HHS marching band. Each one adds a different flavor. New kids bring new traditions (some are silly, some are serious). And new voices calling me Mom… or 'Hey, Alex’s Mom!'
I’ve seen kids fall flat on their faces from potholes in roads. I’ve seen kids carrying base drums walk square into the back of another because they couldn’t see over top of the drum. I’ve watched them in pouring down rain, covered in garbage bags we taped to their instruments to keep them dry. I’ve seen them sweat and faint from the heat.
These kids work as hard as any sports team out there. Only, at the end of each season, there’s no championship game for them to win. They play to play. They play for each other. And yes, they play to support the football team and the school.
Before each game, they warm up to some of their favorite songs. I try to make a few videos for them throughout the year so there’s something for them to watch and remember.
This Friday, as I marched alongside them to the bleachers, I paid attention to the cracks in the pavement, and blocked off the holes they would invariably trip in. I caught a spot of loose dirt and watched as a pair tried to do their corner pivot in it. One almost fell. I moved to that spot and kept the rest of the line out of the "sand trap."
Once in the bleachers, Alex tried to figure out when to play, and when to keep silent. I reminded her, “When the other team has the ball you can start the band, Al.”
She took them through the first half of the game and, soon enough, it was halftime. On away games, the visiting team generally does the halftime show while the home team does pre-game.
This year, the Marching Hornets are performing an Avenger-themed show. I won’t ruin the whole thing for you by telling you everything that happens. I will say that the costumes and the acting make it an asbolute joy to watch.
As they made their way off the field, I realized it was my last first halftime show ever. (That’s damn confusing isn’t it?) I was proud of them—of what they accomplished in a just few short summer weeks.
The second half of the game passed quickly and soon the band was "playing" 'Hey Baby' as the players made their way off the field. I say "playing" because most of them are singing. It’s just a baritone sax and some drum sticks guiding the voices. The dancing and laughing that go with it really add to the fun at the end of the night.
With the first football game out of the way, there’s only nine to go (in regular season).
Nine more chances to watch these kids make memories on a Friday night.