As regular readers of this feature know, I grew up in Wisconsin and experienced the majority of my childhood in the 1970s. As a result of that timeline, I didn't get to see too many winning performances or experience too many championship seasons. I have vague memories of the Milwaukee Bucks winning their only championship in 1971, and I have better memories of the magical run of Marquette in 1977, as they won the NCAA men's basketball championship and sent Al McGuire out as a winner. Most of the other entities I cared about didn't do so well, though.
The world of marching band wasn't on my radar in those days, either. My high school, Xavier, did not have a marching band program. When we had our homecoming parade, they would have the pep band sit on folding chairs (with their music stands, of course) on the back of a big flatbed truck and play their songs as the vehicle rolled slowly down College Avenue. It was (a) ludicrous and (b) really, really unsafe, but that's how we did it. I knew the marching band was a big deal in college, but it wasn't anything that mattered. The band at Appleton East marched in the Orange Bowl parade in the early 1970s, but that was about it.
For the past four years, Fearless Maria has been part of the marching band program at her high school. And on Saturday night they won their third consecutive state championship:
Irondale High School competes in all the typical high school sports, occasionally doing well, but they aren't known for great success. They are great in winter drumline. Up until the last three years, I'd never had a chance to experience what it's like to be a state champion. Xavier won some state championships during my high school career, but that was at arm's length. Fearless Maria and her fellow drumline members are a full-on dynasty now and it's been a real education for me to see what it really takes to win a state championship and, even more importantly, what it takes to stay there. These kids put in an amazing amount of time into their shows. The other high schools that compete successfully in drumline in the state are mostly other metro schools, and the schools that Irondale will face in the WGI championships in less than two weeks span the gamut from small town enterprises to huge high schools. It's been an amazing experience and while we're ready for the next stage of her life, we'll miss these seasons.