You hear the roar of what appears to be an army of bands taking over Spratt Stadium, which can only mean one thing: Missouri Western hosted its 26th annual Tournament of Champions on Tuesday, Oct. 11 for surrounding area high school marching bands.
There were 22 marching bands performing from all over, including some St. Joseph high schools that participated in the competition that lasted all afternoon.
So what point would there be for a Missouri Western student to attend a high school marching band competition?
Band Director Jeff Hinton says that, “It would be a good opportunity for a student to come out and see how we can perform outside of just a normal Saturday afternoon football halftime show. It would be a good time to really see what our band can do.”
Marching bands each were given a few minutes to showcase what it is that they have been practicing since the later part of this summer.
“We practice for about two hours every other day during a normal five-day week, and we have a morning band rehearsal just about every other day,” said percussionist Shannon Hart, a junior from Lafayette High School in Saint Joseph.
There are multiple people who help with the judging of the competition. There are two judges that were on the game field and a few that were up in the press booth.
Judges looked for specific things during each band’s performance to judge them on. Some of the things that they are looking for are their marching fundamentals, the quality of the sound of each part of the band and also, how well each marching band stays in tune with one another.
The two field judges constantly spoke into tape recorders, giving live feedback to the marching bands.
“When we judge, we’re also commenting on things that can perhaps make them better,” said marching judge Dan Stecker. “We want these bands to continue to improve and perform at a high level. That what makes it so fun to watch them after all.”
And the bands even got creative: some integrate dance moves or even non-traditional instruments like the electric bass guitar. But through it all, the students involved say it is a difficult competition and it takes every bit of practice, determination and athleticism as most other typical sports.
“People say this isn’t a sport, but it takes a lot of dedication, and these drums get really heavy,” Hart said.
The competition ended with an awards ceremony and an exhibition performance from Missouri Western’s Golden Griffon Marching Band, which was led by Hinton.
“At the end of the competition, I want these high school marching bands to gain a feeling for what it would be like to be a part of the Missouri Western Marching Band,” Hinton said. “We want everyone to see what our band has to offer, so that everyone can see how we perform and see what we can bring to the table.”