Marching Bulldogs continue to chew ‘em up in annual parade, field show competitions


Krystal Wilson

The Marching Bulldogs take the field to perform the school song and the national anthem.

Ryan Wilson, staff writer

For the past two years band director Hannah Drake has worked day and night to make sure COVID didn’t get the best of the award-winning band program.

One necessary change was a move out of the band room and into the gym.

“It is impossible to social distance with the number of students we have in band,” Drake said. “We’ve been rehearsing in Davenport Gym since we came back to school in fall of 2020. That has presented its own challenges, but we’re lucky that we have been allowed to play indoors.”

While the band wasn’t able to participate in parade season last fall, they kept their skills sharp in other ways.

“Even though we didn’t have many public performances last year we found ways to adapt and make the most out of it,” Drake said. “Our Christmas concert was virtual and we participated in the virtual IHSA Solo and Ensemble contest. I would say that being able to rehearse consistently kept us in shape for this school year. Even though our performances weren’t in a traditional setting it was nice to have a goal to work towards throughout the year.”

Many of this year’s band members have never marched in a parade, and show-stopping performances are something for which the Bulldog Marching Band is well known.

“Probably the biggest hurdle we have had to overcome is the number of band members who haven’t marched as a high school student,” Drake said. “Close to 50% of the band are freshman and sophomores. That means that half of our group has never performed a halftime show, and they have never competed as a marching band.

Drake thinks the requirement to start performing with juniors and seniors is one of the biggest challenges of marching band.

“I’ve always said band is unique because it is the largest team you can be a part of,” Drake said. “The freshman are expected to perform at the same level as the seniors. It has been extremely helpful to have a strong group of student leaders who have gone out of their way to make sure their section members are prepared.

If crowd reaction is any indication, the community is thrilled to have the band back on the field during half time.

“I think I can speak for everyone when I say we feel very lucky to be back performing normally at games and competitions,” Drake said. “It would have been easy to everyone to lose hope that we might not get to do that again. I appreciate everyone’s dedication to our program. We have come back this year ready to work hard and get ready for Friday night games and Saturday competitions. So far, that hard work has paid off. We’ve had a very successful season so far and we hope to [finish just as strong.”

Seniors Kendall Vallette and Kirsten Eversmann are finishing their last year as drum majors and training and freshman Ali Hankins to assume that leadership role when they graduate. Vallette feels that COVID still causes problems from time to time.

“The many people quarantined every week has affected our sound and overall look in our field show and in the parades,” Vallette said.

Nevertheless, she believes that they will end her senior year on a high note.

“I believe our season will end with another undefeated year,” Vallette said. “The band puts in a lot of time and dedication, and it pays off. I’ve very much enjoyed my last season as a Marching Bulldog.”


The band competed in the SIUC Homecoming Parade Oct. 16. The band took first in the competition, sealing an undefeated season. This is the sixth straight consecutive undefeated season for the Marching Bulldogs.