Color guard season ends and more changes are to come

Ashlee White preforming on flag April 16 2021 Photo credits: Kendall Ridge

The color guard season ended and began this past week again with the recording session for the 2021 teams on Friday, April 16 and the first day of tryouts being the following day. After showing the culmination of many months of hard work, the team instantly switched gears into preparing for the Fall 2021 marching band season. This also frames change within the band. However, change is never without its silver lining.

The marching season, whose show theme has yet to be announced, is already preparing for new incoming band members, both first-year and first-time upper-class students. The band, as well as the school, are optimistic that things will return to normal next year, meaning that the marching band can return in full force over the summer and into the school year. The beginning of this movement toward normalcy began with the recording of the winter guard shows on the evening of April 16.

Over several months spanning from February to early April, the team worked tirelessly to put together a show worth preforming in a time of COVID where most group sports have been put on hold. While keeping mindful of the Catamounts Care guidelines, the teams were able to perform the culmination of their demanding work in the form of two separate performances. Preformed in the Ramsey Center on WCU’s campus, a small audience gathered for the first time since Spring 2020 to watch the team practice before the final recording session immediately after. The video will be professionally cut and released to the public in time, but until then, the team is already plowing into the beginning stages of the following season.

The guard has jumped the gun slightly and has already held their first of two tryouts for the fall season on April 17, the day immediately after the winter guard recording session. Though they remain socially distant and abiding by the mask rule, it is already a step toward the bright and hopeful future of a marching band season that is not plagued by fears of the Covid pandemic.

Not only is the band making early steps toward having a full season, but things are also preparing to fundamentally shift in the band for better or for worse. Jonathan Henson, who acted as the band director for the past year and as Interim Director of Athletic Bands for many years before that, has resigned. This follows the resignation of the color guard coach, Bobby Richardson, and the previous band director David Starnes who both left the band in the summer of 2020. This has opened holes in some of the longest-running leadership positions and can lead to a reshaping and reimaging of the band from the ground up. Several candidates are currently being considered for the band director position, but students and staff have yet to hear a result from any of the candidates.

When asked about the ongoing search for a new band director and her prospects for the upcoming season, Robyn Smyth, a rising sophomore and Pride of the Mountains marching band member, is hopeful about the search.

“I think they have a very good group of people working on the search. I also think it is smart that they have students on hand to assist in the search,” she said. “I feel like the students may have some questions to ask potential candidates that the administration wouldn’t think to ask.”

She also reflected on how this change will impact the team.

“I think that the program is going through a big transitional period, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone here cares a lot about the band program, so they wouldn’t let a change in leadership bring us down,” Smyth said.

Smyth, who has been following the POTM for some time but has not participated in the team other than during its hibernation period through COVID, remains hopeful during this metamorphosis.

“It will be interesting to see what new leadership will bring us.”