The Apache Band drum line, the Apache Punch, competed in the Winter Guard International (WGI) competition in Dayton, Ohio on April 18 and 19. They walked away world champions.
They competed in an indoor competition. Unlike standard drum line cadences, it incorporates the drum line and the front ensemble, which includes the mallet instruments. It uses a lot of movement and fast paced
“We incorporate drumming, of course … We incorporate visuals. They all take a dance class, even the guys, three times a week. Basically they dance with drums on and they play awesome music,” said Karman Trotter, visual coordinator for the Apache Band.
It takes a lot of hard work, and practice to perform at this level. In addition to the three hours of dance classes a week, they practiced
the music for three and a half hours three times a week. As the competition came nearer, they held weekend long practices.
“The amount of time we put in compared to the instructors was fractional. I’m really grateful for the instructors. They were able to give up more of their time than my measly three and a half hours three times a week,” said sophomore Paul Uhles, marimba player.
This is TJC’s second year to compete, and the hard work paid off.
“Last year we placed 8th in finals, and this year we went in and won straight ones across the board with visual, music, and general effects. It was incredible, a great feeling,” said Trotter.
The competition is mainly the drum line and ensembles. The division that they’re in competes against 20 other schools, and out the 20 schools the top 12 schools go to finals. When the band students go to finals judges take the highest score from each school to determine who wins, with the highest score beginning at 100 and the lowest a 0.
“We are not competing with junior colleges. We are actually competing with major universities. We came in first, Penn State came underneath us at second … This is a world competition not just a local or … a junior college competition,” said Trotter.
Boston College didn’t even place in the top five.
“I didn’t think that a junior college from this small corner of East Texas [could] come [in] and beat colleges like Penn State and Boston College,” said freshman Austin Tacket, drum set player. I don’t win much in my life but winning world champions is a great feeling.”
McGowan felt that part of the reason for their success was the students willingness to take on leadership roles. They worked to keep each other focused on their goal.
“The students worked extremely hard. They also act as instructors a lot of times… The students have to take on leadership roles and run sectionals. They are extremely dedicated and take care of business when they need to,” said McGowan. “Not only did we get first place we also scored first in every caption that included the performance the general effect and the visual.”