VANDALIA — For senior Field Commander Dominique Rhode, being in the Butler High School Marching Band is a family tradition. So is trying out to be the leader of this musical group.
“When my mom was in it, she tried out. And when my aunt was in it, she tried out and my sister tried out. So, I just felt like it was my part of my family to try out. And happily I got it,” Rhode said.
But this year Rhode will have an opportunity the other members of her family never did. She’ll take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, leading the Butler Marching Band at the Bands of America Grand Nationals, a first for the Marching Aviators.
Band Director Kurt Westfall, a BHS alum, says it’s been a welcome challenge this season taking this group in a new direction.
“We’ve become increasingly more competitive and we have definitely stepped up the design of the show and the quality of the product that we’re doing,” said Westfall. “And sometimes that can be hard. It can be hard to implement those changes. Marching band is a hard activity and it requires a lot out of the kids. The changes or the challenges associated with all that goes into that involves a lot of passion, dedication and hard work,”
Band members say that hard work is paying off in an entertaining show. Junior Color Guard member Natalie Baxter said she loves this year’s show.
“It’s kind of like re-creating a starry night in general with lights and music,” Baxter said.
Putting together all of those elements to perform and to compete has made for a good year for junior Color Guard member Zolee Howard.
“Really, really fun, also very busy,” said Howard. “It’s different from last year because we have a whole different genre of show. It’s been interesting and very challenging.”
Rhode said she isn’t worried about those challenges as band members head into the final competitions of the season. She believes this group is ready for Grand Nationals after months of rehearsing for nearly 20 hours a week.
“At first I get a lot of butterflies because I’m in front of everyone,” said Rhode. “And then all of a sudden, it just goes away and it’s like I can do it. We’re going to rock.”
BOA Grand Nationals are Nov. 12-14 in Indianapolis.