Terça-feira, 18/6/2019 | : : UTC-4
The Reflection

Gull Lake Marching Band competes in first MCBA competition

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On October 6, the Gull Lake Blue Devils Marching Band competed in its first MCBA competition at Portage Northern High School. The band was required to meet at 1:15; color guard was called an hour earlier so that they could practice for an hour and half before loading up the trailers and heading to their first competition.

“When you’re at MCBA, everything you do is judged. [Everything from] the way you walk on the field to the way you hold your instrument can affect your score,” senior trombone player Emily Galbreath said.  When the band arrived at Portage, they immediately headed to their warm up

Gull Lake Band Jacket. Photo courtesy of Kaleen Morris

section where they could get one final practice in before the show.

“It’s always nerve-wracking to go to the first competition of the season; it’s your first impression and can dictate how the judges view you for the rest of the season,” Galbreath said.

This is the first time the band has competed at this level, and it is far more impactful on their season than previous years.

“MCBA is far more competitive than MSBOA. We compete with everyone in the state of Michigan,” senior color guard member Ari Dugan said.  

Throughout the season, all of the band’s scores are complied together to get an average rating. If the band does not receive a high enough rating, they will not go on to compete at Ford Field in November.

“It would be disappointing to have our senior year season be cut short,” Dugan said.

How MCBA scores is different from the band previously competing in MSBOA. It is not uncommon for a judge to notice a single person out of step with the band and give the band a low score.

“MCBA bands are held to a very high standard. Every person must show discipline in everything they do,” Dugan said.

There are also judges on the field critiquing the band as they march, and they are the most likely to pick out mistakes on a miniscule level.

“It’s very stressful. The [color guard] judge will notice if even one person is out of time, and, if you drop, it’s game over,” Dugan said.

Having judges on the field is scary, you don’t want to accidentally hit one

Previously, at the school, the weather had been hot, so many members were forced to wear shorts and t-shirts while rehearsing. However, when they got out of the buses at Portage, it began to storm.

It was insane, our flags were going all over the place

Many of the color guard found it difficult to perform once the wind started picking up.

“The wind would just come out of nowhere and rip the flag out of your hand. Not to mention, the rain made them five pounds heavier than normal,” said senior color guard member Allison Eldredge.

The band was prepared for a rainy and miserable performance when,  just as they were given the okay to set up their props, the storm passed. The band went on to perform their best show yet and receive a high score of 82.02 out of 100.

“It was amazing. I don’t think we’ve ever done that well for our first competition,” said sophomore color guard member Haley Sulka.

As soon as the band finished performing, they loaded up the bus and set out again. The band also competed at Vicksburg school’s invitational the same night, after performing at the Gull Lake football game the previous night.

Gull Lake Band half time performance. Photo courtesy of Debra Barnett

“I was so tired, but we had another performance so I just kept going,” Sulka says.

Vicksburg was an MSBOA competition which has different rules than MCBA.

“MSBOA is much less strict than MCBA; you aren’t timed for your set up and take down times and can have much more interactive shows,” Sulka said.

Unlike Portage, Vicksburg had calm weather and the band performed even better than they had at Portage. After the performance, both Vicksburg and Gull Lake participated in a drumline battle. Both drumlines appreciated the chance to show off their skills in a friendly competition. After the battle, Gull Lake was awarded 3rd place with a ranking of 86―the best they have done at Vicksburg in the last four years.

“This was my first time competing, and I can’t believe how good it makes me feel,” said junior color guard member Grace Wolverton.

By the time awards were done, it was 9:30 and the band had been working for eight and a half hours straight, and even then their work wasn’t over with yet. By the time the trailers were loaded and the buses were on their way, it was well past 10 o’clock.

“I was so tired, but I was still hyped up from the competition. I definitely can’t wait to sleep,” Wolverton said as the buses left.


I am a senior who is involved in various theater companies and participates in Marching Band. I hope to go into Marine Biology and research the habits of sawfish.


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