The Smithville Tiger Band earned its top UIL marching contest ranking to date with a Top 10 performance in Area Finals Oct. 29 at Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton. Surprisingly, this achievement came after ranking last in the Capital City Marching Festival in Austin a mere five weeks before.
“It was due to the upperclassmen,” said high school drum major Ashley Winegarner. “After ranking last at Cap City, they really pushed us to be better.”
Mr. Wayne King, director of the band said that the poor showing at the festival was a blessing, causing the students to work much harder in a very short period of time. The first round of UIL competition was held less than three weeks later.
“The poor showing at the festival was good for us; it caused us to work harder,” said Mr. King.
“It’s like they poked the eye of the Tiger,” he added with a grin.
He said he was proud of the way his students work together for the award-winning performance.
This year’s space-exploration-themed program was titled “One Small Step” and featured percussion players wearing astronaut gear and backdrops of space seen behind the band. King said he and former assistant Mr. Dago Gonzalez began planning this program last November right after the 2015 marching season ended.
In addition to halftime shows for the Friday night football crowd, the band competed at three festivals before the first UIL competition. The band transported equipment, instruments, uniforms nine times in October.
“It was busy,” said Mr. King. ”A lot goes into getting the students and what they need to perform ready and at the performance sites.”
The competition performances began on the first Saturday in October at Capital City, and didn’t finish until five weeks and seven judged performances later at UIL Area competition on Oct. 29, where they earned the chance to perform in the Area Finals.
Week 1 in October. The band placed last in their group at Capital City Marching Festival in Austin, which motivated them to work harder.
The students earned a 1st Division rating at the Crusader Marching Band Invitational at Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton where they earned a 1st Division rating. The location was also selected for the Oct. 29 UIL Area competition, and in anticipation of winning performances, Mr. King wanted to give the students a chance to be comfortable with the location.
The students performed twice at Edna Invitational Marching Contest, earning 3rd place in Class 4A, 1st in Percussion and 2nd in Color Guard in the preliminary. After finals, they ranked 5th out of 31 schools.
Regional UIL competition was held on Oct. 22 in Giddings, where they earned 1st Divisions from all five judges. Per UIL rules, every two years a band is allowed to advance to Area UIL if they qualify.
At Area UIL competition in Belton, the band placed 7th in the preliminary Area round out of 26 bands, moving them to the Top 10 Finals, where they placed 8th.
When the results were announced, the students went wild, cheering and crying at the accomplishment of making it to Area Finals. They even did the Macarena dance moves as their salute.
Finishing in 8th mean that they were three places outside of a state placement. While they would have loved to move on, they were not disappointed with their accomplishment.
“Unfortunately, only the top five bands go to state competition,” said Mr. King. “But reaching Area Finals was our goal, and we did it. Reaching state – that will be our goal in two years, the next time we can qualify for moving beyond district.”
Smithville was on the smaller side of schools in the 4A classification. Mr. King said that while other schools may have more students, resources and staff, the judges are focused on the basics of music and marching in the competition.
“It was a really good feeling to know that our programs are in really great company,” said King. “Those schools have some really outstanding programs.”
Mr. King said the band wouldn’t have been able to do this well without Color Guard help from Mrs. Lorelei Rooks, Mrs. Carrie Gonzalez and Mrs. Leanne Weinheimer; and percussion help from Mr. Michael Hoffman and Mr. Reece McKeown. Mr. King also credited his staff Mrs. Cathy Sherill and Mrs. Diana King.
Since 2005, the band has earned 1st Divisions annually at the Regional UIL contest, and when allowed every other year, received a plaque for competing at Area.