The Big 12 and Pac-12 aren’t the only ones preparing for the Valero Alamo Bowl

[As told by a high school student]

“I feel the Alamodome vibrating with excitement, I hear the crowd screaming, I grasp my drum stick, close my eyes and quickly run through the first drill in my mind.

It seems like just yesterday this trip was a just dream.  It was a hot day at summer band camp when our high school marching band director shared the news: we’d been invited to perform at the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio!  I couldn’t believe my ears– Texas?!  We were going all the way to Texas– to perform at a bowl game in front of 70,000 screaming fans?  I’d rarely left our small Ohio town, so I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to FLY to Texas– and San Antonio of all places!  I had read about the Alamo, even seen pictures in history books, but now I was getting the chance to go and see it in person.

For next few months our marching band had extra rehearsals in addition to our regular ones and our high school football games. We washed cars, held bake sales and sold discount cards to raise money for the trip.  Thanks to my friends on the drumline, it was a blast too! All of the extra time spent together really solidified our team and made our band stronger.

Just a few short days ago we arrived in San Antonio.  We got to see the Alamo in person.  We spent time on the River Walk shopping and tasting the amazing food that Texas has to offer.    We performed in the Alamo Bowl Bands, and even got to play at the Alamo Bowl pep rally at the Arneson Theater on the River Walk!  We got to collaborate with other bands and band directors from around the country and celebrate together at an awards ceremony, which was awesome! I’d never been in a room with that many fellow band peeps before! We even had a chance to visit Six Flags™ Fiesta Texas!  This has been the best trip ever, and it has all led up to this moment… the moment I’m about to take the field (which is only the largest stage I have ever stepped on – no pressure).  “Ready band?” I hear our director shout… HERE WE GO…

The second I step on the field I feel the energy from the crowd.  I march to my first position and my heart races.  Despite the screams from the crowd, I zone in on my steps and the music, and everything but us becomes white noise.   This moment feels intense! I try to focus the adrenaline running through my veins, and respond by playing my heart out.  Every note, every beat, every step I take is rooted in months of preparation and anticipation.    In an instant, the halftime show ends and we march off the field.  The adrenaline doesn’t stop.  I look up at the crowd one last time before ducking into the stadium tunnel, feeling 10 feet tall!  Wow- I just performed in front of almost 70,000 fans live!  I did it!  We did it! Our small town band from Ohio just played the Alamodome!

This experience has definitely shaped my marching band career.  I would never have thought I would play the Alamodome – let alone anywhere like it!   I’m really proud of my band and my school.  My band director came up with this idea and worked with WorldStrides OnStage to help us make it happen.  Playing at the Alamo Bowl has changed me; it has gotten me to march out of my comfort zone, see new places, have a new experience, make amazing memories and become a better version of me!

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