Students perform at halftime of KSU game

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High school marching bands typically perform in front of crowds of less than 5,000 people. On Saturday, 12 students from the Manhattan High Big Blue Marching Band got to perform in front of 50,000 people at Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the first annual All Star Marching Band.

“In the moment, you really don’t notice the thousands of people watching you,” junior Christopher Carter said. “You’re mostly concentrating on everything that you’re doing, but there was a definitely a tremendous amount of energy present.”

The 12 students were selected by the Kansas State Marching Band staff, after being nominated by Manhattan High band director Joel Gittle. The students joined the rest of the ASMB Friday night, practicing with the Kansas State Marching Band, or the Pride of Wildcat Land, at Memorial Stadium.

“It was a lot faster paced [than MHS rehearsals],” senior Lydia Fry said. “It was just like they expected you to know what you were doing, and they didn’t really like take as much time to walk through it with you. They just kind of like gave you the drill sheet and were like ‘now do it.’”

The ASMB had three hours to learn the entire show for “The Avengers” theme song, leading to a frantic and challenging night.

“[The hardest part was] probably just getting the moves down as fast as possible while learning to play the music,” junior Elijah Emory said.

However, practicing with members of the Pride gave the ASMB an example of what they should be doing.

“It was fun because we had people to look up to,” senior Alex Henton said, “and we knew that we could see what they were doing to figure out what we needed to be doing.”

On Saturday morning, the band had a report time of 5:15 a.m., but some sections got together before then to get to know each other.

“It was hard to get up Saturday morning since the trumpet section had breakfast at 4 a.m.,” junior Kate Washburn said, “but once we were all together, it was super fun.”

At halftime, the ASMB performed “The Avengers” by themselves on the field, before being joined by the Pride for “The Phoenix.” For “God Bless America,” “Wabash Cannonball” and “Wildcat Victory,” the bands were joined by the Kansas State Alumni Band, which included MHS assistant band director Scott Freeby.

“It’s cool playing with people who love what they’re doing so much,” Fry said. “It brings a whole new level of motivation when people around you care and are focused.”

After halftime, the ASMB was given the choice of standing with the Pride, giving them an opportunity to experience a college atmosphere.

“They really just have a great time and love doing what they do,” Fry said. “It was fun to be a part of all their cheers and helping to hype up the student section.”

If given the opportunity, juniors felt like it would be worth it to go attend again next year.

“It was such a neat experience to get to play with the K-State band,” Washburn said. “It really felt like we were a part of [the band].”

All in all, members of the ASMB enjoyed the weekend tremendously.

“It was the most fun I’ve ever had,” Carter said. “There’s nothing quite like performing for that many people and being a part of the K-State Band. The amount of energy that’s within the band at 5 a.m. is just incredible and it doesn’t stop until the last note of Wildcat Victory at the end of the game.”

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Students perform at halftime of KSU game