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Liberty Bowl icing to Wahama marching band's season

Jan. 08, 2011 @ 10:15 PM

MASON, W. Va. -- The Wahama Junior-Senior High School marching band had its best competition year ever, a statement that tenth-year director Chip Hendricks won't disagree with.

"We've had some good bands over the years, but this year we've done some things we haven't done in the past," said Hendricks, who has been a band director for a total of 20 years.

The 53-member band, which has students from eighth to 12th grades, was first in its class at nearly every band competition in the fall. The band even garnered an invitation to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

"I said before that it had been five years since we won champion in our class. It was actually eight," Hendricks said. "We kind of exceeded our own expectations. We always try to do our best and plan to do well, but when you are starting out band camp in August, you never know."

The White Falcon marching band won grand champion during the Liberty Bowl parade Dec. 30, then performed during the half-time show of the game on Dec. 31, with about 10 other bands from throughout the country.

Hendricks said the experience was neat for him, but he was most excited to see the awe on the faces of the 46 students who were able to make the trip.

"I have never been to one of those bowl games and don't believe (Wahama) ever has," he said. "It was kind of neat before the parade, lined up outside the FedEx Forum. All the bands were warming up.

"And the parade, there were thousands of people," Hendricks added. "We turned the corner and the kids' eyes just got so big."

Katie Barr, a senior drum major, won overall field commander at the Liberty Bowl parade. She said the whole experience was a fitting way for the seniors to go out.

"I had no idea ... at the beginning of year, I expected it to be just another year," Barr said. "But it's been my favorite year of high school so far."

In her six years in marching band, going back to seventh grade, she said the bands were always pretty good. But she said there would always seem to be a breaking point that doomed the season.

"When the season starts, everyone is optimistic," she said of previous years. "But in the middle of the year, after we've practiced for so long, everyone starts to lose their patience and focus."

But when this season started out with with that grand championship in its class at Cabell Midland High School, something changed.

"Everyone was expecting to do OK," she said. "I don't think anyone really expected (to win grand champion). Winning at Cabell Midland was a reminder of the amazing group I was a part of."

That changed the demeanor for the rest of the season, she said, and helped carry them through to a successful bowl game experience.

Barr and Hendricks said they hope this year is an indication of things to come.

"It's a good group of leaders, but all the other kids are getting experience," he said. "Hopefully this carries over next year and the next few years."

The 2010 White Falcon marching band includes: Vanessa Bumgarner and Casey Gilbert, piccolo; Sarah Bumgarner and Shaya Dudding, flute; Kelsey Zuspan and Jenna Ferguson, Baritone; Lauren Roush, Miranda Meadows, Olivia Smith and Kristen Menendez, rifle corps; Jessica Patterson, Marsha Pearson, Arielle Russell and NaKisha Hill, clarinet; Brittany Stewart and Brittany Jones, mellophone; Cyrena Roach, trombone; Amy Lewis, tuba.

Morgan Kaylor, Cadence Weaver and Philip Bumgarner, alto sax; Whitney Fields and Jenna Fields, tenor sax; Anthony Bond, Tyler Tucker, Austin Ohlinger, Morgan Nottingham, Benjamin Foreman, Jacob Ortiz, Michael Hendricks, Steven Gibbs, Lakin Bissell, Clayton Gibbs and Brandon Wollard, percussion; Brogran Barnitz, Karista Ferguson, Sierra Kearns, Janae Cundiff, Jourdan Scott, Kylin Marr, Kelsey McDaniel and Payton Humphreys, trumpet; Leticia Paugh, Rebecca Zerkle, Jessica Gilkey, Rachel DeVault, Sarah Beach, Bunni Peters, Rebecca Tucker, Deeanna Sayre and Kylie Roush, flag corps.

Crystal Hendricks and Rex Howard also served as directors.