With only 10 minutes to shine, each school presented the best they had to offer

The sound of drumlines filled the air at Forrest Lewis Stadium in Hampstead as high school marching bands stormed the field in an effort to take the title at the Topsail High School Pirate Invitational, Oct 19.

The crowd erupted with applause as each school entered the field to compete. The drum majors were given their cue to begin by the stadium announcer, and they responded with a salute before leading their band into the first song. Putting their best foot forward, local marching bands performed their competition pieces while theit color guard danced and proudly waved flags. The band members marked time in unison with the taps from the percussion section while taking their ever changing positions on the field.

The marching competition season has been in full swing since the end of September throughout the coastal Carolinas, and Topsail High School was the most recent venue.

“This event has a long-standing tradition that has been supported by our music community and family for many years,” said Ruben Jones, an avid supporter of the arts programs. “Not to brag but us locals come out to support the kids, and we always have one of the biggest marching contests in the state when it comes to audience members.”

Those who competed at Forrest Lewis Stadium included mostly Onslow County schools, as well as schools from the surrounding counties.

Each band had five minutes to get set up on the field, while some bands used this time for a quick warm-up before beginning their performance. Once they began, they had 10 minutes to perform their show, clear the field of any props they may have used in their show and exit the field.

As one band took the field, the next band could be faintly heard warming up in the distance. Bands quickly moved into place on the side of the field, awaiting their turn to take the field in 10 short minutes in hopes that months of practice — sometimes in 100-plus degree heat over the summer — in addition to countless hours of sectionals finally pay off.

“We prepare for this competition as much as possible,” said Stephanie Jackson, high school senior and daughter of a Marine Corps warrant officer who is currently deployed. “I think all the schools practice hard and make adjustments throughout the season. Many of us compete several times throughout the season and while we wish our friends the best of luck, we also want to win.”

Many local schools will be travelling to the Union Pines Viking Classic in Cameron, N.C. next weekend for another competition in preparation for the Cary High School Band Day in November, which is the biggest completion in the state.

“We always have the mentality of: ‘We need to represent our band program,’” said Amber Hansen, a trombone player and high school junior. “We have to leave a legacy for the following year. We are a really great band, but so are a lot of the other teams. We have to practice hard and often if we want to score well.”