Halftime warriors Marching bands brave the heat before season

Published 11:29 am Monday, August 6, 2012

During the last few weeks of summer, high school students were up early and out late practicing in the hot sun to get ready for the upcoming season, and those students weren’t just the football players.

Members of the Vicksburg and Warren Central high school bands spent the final days of their summer vacations honing their skills and getting ready to perform on Friday nights during football season.

“We’re really lucky to have kids staying positive despite the weather. They’re keeping their heads up when they could complain,” said Lee Winters, director of the VHS Pride Band. “They’re doing extremely well.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The band has 140 members and each was selected through tryouts in April, Winters said. The theme for the VHS band this year is Rockin’ the 70s.

“We wanted to pick a show that everyone would enjoy and they can be successful at,” Winters said. “I’m very impressed with everyone so far.”

Marnika Stimage, a 17-year-old senior, is beginning her fourth year with the band.

“I love being outside,” said Marnika, the daughter of Marika and Clarence Stimage. “I got involved because I wanted something to do, and people come to games to hear the band, we get the crowd pumped up.”

The football season begins on Aug. 17 with the annual Red Carpet Bowl. Vicksburg High is scheduled to play Pearl at 6 p.m., followed by Warren Central against Brandon. Both games will be played at WC.

During the week leading up to the start of school, Marnika and the other members of the band reported to band camp at 8 a.m. and worked throughout the day until about 5 p.m.

“We’re working hard,” Marnika said. “It’s fun though, and I like helping the lower classes.”

Across town, members of the Big Blue Band at Warren Central were working just as hard to get ready for their halftime show.

“We provide the entertainment, we get everyone moving and yelling in the stands,” said Alan Arendale, director of WC’s Big Blue Band. “The team has said it’s really too quiet when we aren’t there, it’s important.”

Big Blue has 160 members this year, and they have a playback theme for their show, he said. The show will be similar to watching DVR from home, with “power on, fast-forward and rewind” sounds.

“They were really fired up about the show,” Arendale said. “We had a few options and let the rising seniors choose, they’re the leaders.”

Arendale said being in the band is a huge commitment, one that his members have stepped up to.

“It takes a ton of dedication,” Arendale said. “It helps when they like the music they play, and they’re doing a great job.”

“I love to do this,” said 16-year-old Steven Channell, a junior drum major. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t enjoy it, and it’s a responsibility that you accept and push through.”

Steven, the son of Mike and Gina Channell, said his sister was a drum major, and he looked up to her while she was in the band.

“The drum majors are here working all summer, and our band is bigger this year, which adds to our self-esteem,” Steven said.

Throughout the year, both bands will be traveling to competitions to show off their skills, and they both have high expectations.

“Our goal is to always do the best we can, and we hope our best results in superior ratings,” Winters said.

For Arendale, superior ratings are also the goal.

“We have a tradition of superior ratings at the state competition,” Arendale said. “We’re just hoping to spend the season doing the best we can marching and supporting the team, supporting the school makes it more fun.”