As school lets out on game day, students rush from their classrooms eager for the weekend to start. Over the excited chatter and birds chirping, a familiar sound can be heard in the distance: the beat of drums.
Before each football game, the CCHS Sound of Pride’s drumline joins forces with the cheerleaders in the courtyard to spark enthusiasm among the lingering crowd.
“I think the people just get excited to see other students,” drumline Co-Captain Marc Olmeda said. “They see us around school carrying big drums, making loud music and just keeping that backbeat that everyone enjoys.”
Although the first drumline appearance of the year can come as a surprise, many students soon learn to look forward to gathering around and watching them perform.
“Drumline gets students like myself super pumped in a school that can sometimes lose its spirit,” senior Kitana Rojas said. “The sound and spirit resonate throughout the school, from the Littlest Cowboys I teach, to the teachers who teach me.”
The drumline embodies school spirit, encouraging a bigger turn out at football games and other school-associated events. In addition to drawing students to the courtyard before the game, the drumline joins the band in the stands and on the field when the Friday night lights blink on. For both types of performances, section Co-Captains Marc Olmeda and Ryan Hage lead with pride.
“Basically, as captains, we set the standard of how things should be in the line,” Hage said.
The beat they provide is the foundation of the Sound of Pride Marching Band Program, a crucial component to their success at competitions throughout the marching season. Without the drumline’s unique part in the making of the yearly production, the whole structure of the program would not be the same.
“They have the willingness to sacrifice part of themselves, to be part of something bigger,” Head Percussion Instructor James Davis said. “They are a very highly motivated group of kids, always have been.”
The drumline is always striving to be better; whether or not they have a good rehearsal, their motivation is unceasing.
“Every rehearsal, every performance – we just get better from there,” Olmeda said.
For these hard-workers, even off-season is a call for more preparation and practice. Although they make what they do look ‘easy,’ mere natural talent is not enough when it goes unpolished; improving as a drummer and a team member is essential. Many of the students join independent organizations, and some simply practice their hearts out, getting ready to bring it on in competition the following season. With seasoned seniors leaving and freshmen just arriving, getting past obstacles is what they have to do in order to keep achieving at their level of high excellence.
“People have to get better in order to pick up on what the seniors [leave] behind,” Hage said.
Just as vital to the program as practice is recruiting incoming freshmen to ensure that the gaps left by the graduating class are filled. This year, the number was at an all-time low. Davis, who has been a part of the Sound of Pride for 27 years, has realized the situation.
“They are suffering from [a] low number of students enrolled in the class,” Davis said, comparing to previous years.
Due to the amount of seniors that leave every year, dealing with the situation of gaining new members and becoming a better drummer is more important than ever. Throughout their time in leadership and in the drumline in general, Olmeda and Hage have been trained to adapt as the program shifts.
“Every year is different because we lose a lot of good people, and we also get fresh people that aren’t so good, but that’s their time to come step up to the plate and actually improve a lot,” Olmeda said. “It’s like we never lost anyone.”
Overall, these obstacles are mere midpoints to their overall goal of excellence: motivating the drumline to keep striving to be their best. However difficult, their perseverance proves tested and true throughout the years.
“We have reached every goal set,” Davis said.
With all of the hard work put into each detail of the performance, the drumline resembles a well-oiled machine. The hours of rehearsal all lead up to the moment when the drumline faces the crowd, stands full and fans screaming.
Photo by Ben Milgram