Goshen News, Goshen, IN

November 11, 2012

COLUMN ONE: Remembering the 1987 Goshen High School marching band


— The Nov. 3 Goshen Crimson Marching Band’s second-place finish at state brought back 25-year-old memories of “The Band from Nowhere,” as The Goshen News lovingly dubbed us in print.

We had suffered a huge disappointment in 1986 when I was a sophomore. I think we all felt we had performed more than well enough at regionals to make state for the first time. But in marching band, there is no ball through a hoop to determine who wins or loses. There are human beings with their own peeves and preferences watching from a booth who determine your fate.

WE BOUNCED BACK from the disappointment and had a great early season in 1987. We were sweeping caption awards and the color guard, which I was part of, was scoring well. Things were just clicking that year. Yes, there was extra practice, hard work, great choreography and music. But with marching bands it is more than that. It really is a click. It is hard to explain, but you know it when you feel it.

And then, at regional competition, history was made. The band scored high enough to qualify for state competition for the first time. Not only scored high enough, we found out later — we were in first place.

We were headed to the Hoosier Dome.

THERE WAS NO semi-state competition back then. Bands went from regionals to state the next week. I don’t remember much about the week in between. I’m sure we had extra practices. But I do remember being told we were going to be the first band in our class to compete. “Yikes” does not begin to describe that news.

The actual performance is a blur. But I do remember our directors, Dave Plank and Max Mault, telling us that no matter what the outcome was, we were to comport ourselves with dignity. We were to stand at attention and save our emotion — good or bad — for after the awards.

And then the announcer started naming bands. And naming them, and naming them.

It started to feel like a giant shiver was going through the entire band, but we stayed in formation. Finally it was down to three bands:  Northview, Goshen and Greenwood, the reigning champ and a perpetual powerhouse. We tied for second with Northview on our first trip to state.

WE HELD IT TOGEHER until we left the stadium and then all “dignity” was lost. We screamed and yelled and cheered ourselves hoarse. I’m surprised the bus driver didn’t flee in terror at the thought of transporting that teeming mass of sweaty, crazed teen-agedness three hours home.

It seemed like the Crimson Marching Band had finally hit its stride. We made it to state again the next year, where we placed fourth — much to our dismay, if you can believe it. I was part of group of seniors sobbing because we “only” placed fourth. And then Max Mault came upon the tragic scene and gave us a verbal smackdown.

It was basically the Tom Hanks “There’s no crying in baseball” speech. Along with “There are hundreds of bands out there who would love to be in your shoes.” And, essentially, “How did you get to be such spoiled brats on your second-only trip to state?”

Perspective received. And appreciated.

I’M WONDERING if making it to state is now taken for granted for the Crimson Marching Band and our other great local bands. Because it really is a great accomplishment, whether you go every year or for the first time. You are the elite. The top 10. Stop for a moment and savor that.