It was snowing November 1, 2014 when the Grant County Marching Band started arriving for their 7:30am rehearsal. With the windchill below freezing they took to the parking lot in preparation for the state marching band competition later in the day.
The white flakes blew harder as Dr. Dailey put the marching musicians through their paces working out any minor nuances that could hamper their scores. For ninety minutes they marched and played, repeating different sections to perfect their steps and music. Fifteen other bands from across the state would be doing the same thing in hopes of gaining the top four spots of the Class 4A semi-finals that would allow them into the state finals at Eastern Kentucky University later that evening.
Once satisfied, Dr. Dailey released the kids to get warmed inside. The equipment was loaded for the drive to Madison Southern High School where the semi-finals were taking place. Everyone was in high spirits believing this could be the year Grant County Marching Band dethroned the nine-year reigning Class 4A champion Madisonville North Hopkins.
Although the snow had stopped before the equipment caravan arrived in Berea, KY, the surrounding hills still contained a white glaze of snow that could be seen in the distance. Gray clouds hung in the sky, but they could not dampen the excitement many of the parents felt while readying the equipment for the show. They knew how hard the kids had worked at the difficult show presented to them before school let out for the summer, and many were amazed by how much they had accomplished.
In many ways they had become a different band. They pushed forward through the summer practices and the competition season getting better with each time out. The final competition of the season held at Madison Central High School saw them receive Reserve Grand Champion, the highest they had placed in competitions. Everyone knew first place was within reach and the state finals was the place they were going to get it, however, before that could happen, one of the top four semi-final spots had to be attained.
Grant County was scheduled as the sixteenth and final band to perform. The kids arrived at the competition and changed into their uniforms. There was a charge in the air helping to warm the cold bodies as they made their way to the warmup area. Musical notes and marching steps ran on repeat in their minds. Mistakes could not be allowed. Every release, every dynamic, every note, and every location had to be nailed with precision because the other bands would be attempting the same.
At 3:00pm, the Grant County Marching Band took the field in semi-finals competition. And nailed it. There was a gaffe or two like when a kid fell at the start of the show and almost caused a domino effect of kids falling, but they got back up before anything more catastrophic happened and was back to the correct location. The fall happened within a pack so most people did not even notice how close things came to unraveling. Who ever it was that fell, they made a great recovery.
After the performance, the band stayed on the sideline awaiting the announcement of the top four bands to perform later at Eastern Kentucky University. The announcer came over the sound system, first running through the list of all sixteen bands that performed then the big moment came to announce which four bands would be going on to EKU (in order of performance appearance):
Madisonville North Hopkins
We were moving on to the finals at EKU.