Meet the award-winning Batavia High School marching band
This column is not without bias. Before you read any further, you must know that I am a fan of marching bands, especially the drum line.
It's a family thing. My son played tenors on the Batavia High School drum line. My husband marched competitively for his high school in Tipp City, Ohio and went on to march in college. My father-in-law, a former high school band director judged marching band competitions in Ohio for over 50 years.
I always wanted to be in the marching band but I played viola. There was no hope for me back in the 60s.
"Now we have quite a few people in the marching band who either play in the orchestra or who play an instrument that isn't in a marching band such as the oboe," said Helen Swidenbank, a junior at BHS.
Helen is part of the color guard working with coaches Danielle Beaton and Ashley Fazio to do flag and rifle routines.
Juniors Alexina Beckley and Melissa Carter are also part of the color guard.
"We have coaches who really support us and want us to do better," said Melissa.
Drive past the high school on Saturday morning and you'll see the football team running plays, the soccer team challenging another team and the band out practicing routines.
Three hours later the sports teams are gone and the band is still there, marching and playing.
"We practice about eight to 10 hours a week," said junior Paul Mainzinger. "We really want to be competitive."
Paul was joined by fellow juniors Jeremy Mikrut, Jacob White and sophomore Ryan Schmitz. All are members of the Bulldogs drum line, one of the top drum lines in the state, having won numerous awards at competitions this year. It must be tough being the only sophomore in a section of tenors.
"They have really been supportive," Ryan said. "They've helped me a lot."
The band members were practicing for the Oct. 8 competition, the Knight of Champions, at Prospect High School, Mount Prospect. Twenty-six marching bands competed.
Members of the pit do not march, but that doesn't mean they don't get a workout. Batavia's pit includes eight mallet driven instruments including marimbas and vibraphones.
"We also have electronic drums, a concert drum and other percussive instruments," said Sarah Carrillo, pit captain.
Did I happen to mention the pit also has some amazing string players? In fact, the crowd was wowed by the performances of senior violinists, Sam Pederson and Indigo McGarr.
"The marching band is really fun," said senior Amanda Wall, who plays electronic cello. "We are our own team in the pit but the band is like one big family."
The temperature was a very warm 85 degrees, but that didn't deter the performances or the enthusiasm of the band members in their new uniforms.
The Batavia band members were excited to be there and finished with very impressive fifth overall in a very competitive field. The band finished with a first for percussion in Class AA.
Batavia is in its third year of marching competitively. Next they head to the 45th annual Marching Illini Championships at the University of Illinois in Champaign on Oct. 22 and finish with the state of Illinois Marching Band Invitational at Illinois State University in Bloomington on Oct. 30.
Credit for the band's success must go to directors, Ben Collins and Ryan McCann.
Marching band mom Pam Foelske, a former BHS band member, is very excited about the program.
"It's so great to have Mr. Collins for marching band and Mr. Heath for concert band. It's the best of both worlds," she said.
The Batavia Marching Bulldogs are on their way to victory and just like the football team, there is no stopping them.
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