By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel High Silver Tarpon Marching Band has a lot of fans and we’re all accustomed to hearing of the various awards and accomplishments of the band as they go through contest season. This is the group that has qualified for the state marching contest the last ten times consecutively, and no high school band in the Valley has more state appearances in that span. But this past weekend, our own Silver Tarpon band did something they haven’t done in a long time, if ever.
Competing at the Crossroads Marching Festival at Robstown for the first time the band won the Grand Champion Award, beating out 31 other bands in the process.
Bands from all classes, 2A all the way up to 6A, were there. It was practically a clean sweep; the Silver Tarpon band was awarded Best in Class (4A), Best Percussion in Class, Best Drum Majors in Class, and the Color Guard was First Runner-up in Class. All in all, it was one of the best days this school’s marching band has ever had in competition.
“If you could have seen the looks on their faces when they were called out as Grand Champions,” P.I.S.D. Head Director of Bands Scott Hartsfield said this week. “At first there was a brief moment of silence. They were shocked, then they were just jumping for joy – they were chanting and screaming and hollering. It was pretty cool. If anything it made the kids into believers.”
“It was a better performance than the previous week. It still wasn’t our best performance – we still had a couple electronic problems.”
“I feel like the band was at the top of the world,” co-drum major James Grace told the Press Tuesday. “I was carrying two trophies and the Grand Champion plaque … so I was waving them up in the air and they lifted me up and paraded me around.”
Senior alto sax player Alondra Fleming-Parra started the show with a solo. “It felt good to redeem ourselves after getting 22nd at state last year. It felt good to get first out of all 32 bands. Like Mr. Hartsfield said, ‘P.I. is back,’ and we’re only going to get better. We’re going to be on top.”
There was no Grand Champion award for percussion, but it there had been it would have been given to the Silver Tarpon band drum section.
“They came out Best in Class but they were the highest-scoring percussion section of the day,” Hartsfield said.
This is a non-state contest year for Port Isabel so this weekend’s UIL “Pigskin” contest is the culmination, the final contest of the 2019 season.
We’ve treated it like it was a state year so we can get ahead going into next year,” Hartsfield told the Press. “We’re treating it like it’s the real thing.”
This week, then, for the first time this year, the band will have the whole show on the field for their halftime performance at the Progreso game at Tarpon Stadium.
“You’re going to hear a pretty refined band. Hopefully the marching’s better. Football games are always a bit of a distraction. We try to do our thing but they’re also into the game. It’s not as easy as it looks sometimes.”
“Musically, we were stronger than we were visually,” Hartsfield said. “We’ve just got to get the feet looking better.”
Hartsfield was referring to the marching part of the show – we are, after all, talking about marching bands here, not concert bands. No changes are planned for the show, only a little fine-tuning.
“We’re cleaning up stuff right now. That’s the big goal.”
The UIL Pigskin Marching Contest is on for this Saturday at Mercedes.