Wando Band Places Sixth in Grand Nationals Championship


Camryn Teder, Co-Writing Editor

After nearly seven months of rigorous preparation, the Wando marching band finished their 2018 season with a bang by placing sixth in the nation in the Grand National Championship Competition in Indianapolis.

Their show “By a Thread” received a score of 94.9 from a panel of judges, the highest score in Wando’s history.

The band performed in the Lucas Oil Stadium, one of the biggest stadiums in the nation, against 102 of the other most competitive bands in the country. Wando drum major, senior Alexis Clark, was humbled to be in that environment.

“We got sixth place behind Tarpon Springs and we got a 93.9…It was definitely very exhilarating,” she said. “I know there were 20,000 people in attendance, but it didn’t really seem like that. We’re so focused on the task at hand and performing that it’s kind of hard to recognize all the people that are actually watching you.”

The band has participated in this competition for many years. Clark said this show’s unique movements and intricate props is what sets it apart from the others.

“The drill is definitely much more difficult. There are a lot more moving parts in this show than previous years…” she said. “This year we actually had the pitt, instead of lining up in the front, we had them on the field. So for the first time this year they had to actually be looking at a drum major, which they’ve never had to do, to keep time which was interesting.”

With the many months of practice and high skill level of the band members, Director Bobby Lambert was anticipating a positive turnout for their competition.

“I think it was part relief and part excitement. The relief of knowing that the kids were that good and showing that they were that good and the excitement, that’s been about three years in the making. Previous classes set us up for that success and it opens up some other possibilities and doors for us too,” he said.

Clark said the process was long, but worth it in the end.

“It was a super long process. We started with our first mini camp in May with our freshman.That’s definitely the toughest part, getting all the freshman ready to march and where everyone else….” she said. “It was definitely very difficult, we had long rehearsals, long rehearsal hours…So we had lots of Saturday rehearsals after football games. It was definitely very tiring, but it all paid off.”

The most incredible thing about band, according to Clark, wasn’t just the music, but the people.
“As a drum major, the leadership that I’ve taken in the band has changed my character a lot and it’s taught me a lot of things. I’ll always remember that from this program and it has taught me so much,” she said. “Music if a really important thing for young kids to be a part of because it gives you relationships and a community with all the kids you are marching with. I’ve met, through band, probably my best friends for life just because we do this together and it really brings us together because we all do the same things…They’re just the greatest group of people, the community of musicians that are around me.”

Despite the band’s record setting scores at the competition, Lambert said he’s most proud of what the band accomplished off the field.

“The thing that we can control is our level of performance and our character and I think I’m most proud of the character we exempted there we were very helpful to a lot of other groups that were there sometimes would get a little starstruck bands from across the country think that Wando is just amazing, and so when they see that we’re just regular people and kind, then that’s pretty awesome,” he said. “The other side of that again is the level of performance. I’m so happy with the way that we were able to keep our composure and when you’re standing in front of 26,000 people in Lucas Oil stadium, if there are any faux pos in your training, it will come up.
There are 108 bands alone so you’ve got a large number of people there.”