Marching Chieftains prepare for bowl trip
Some Marching Chieftains probably will sing "Auld Lang Syne" with a little more gusto this New Year's.
After performing at the Liberty Bowl next Tuesday in Memphis, Tenn., the Tonganoxie High band will have a southern buffet and dance in Memphis' AgriCenter.
In Dallas two years ago for the Cotton Bowl, the band couldn't participate in festivities because of inclement weather. THS director Charles VanMiddlesworth said this year's juniors are eager to have a much better experience next week.
"Mr. Van had to create the party for everybody," VanMiddlesworth said, referring to himself.
The band will have some other leisure time, including a trip to Graceland and a rodeo, but practice and performances dominate the Memphis itinerary.
A field show on Sunday, a parade on Monday and the bowl game on Tuesday dominate the band's hectic schedule. The parade will take place down the city's historic Beale Street, while the game will be played in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Clint Black will be the musical performer, while THS and bands from Illinois, Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona will play in the background.
Conference USA champion Texas Christian (9-2) will take on Mountain West champion Colorado State (10-3) at this year's Liberty Bowl. Both schools formerly played in the Western Athletic Conference. The game will be televised on ESPN (Channel 48) at 2:30 p.m. next Tuesday.
As for the THS band, it also will be competing. During the field show, it will perform its routine against a handful of other bands. If judges pick the Chieftains as the top performers, they'll be the pregame entertainment for the Liberty Bowl.
The Chieftains have been practicing their James Bond-themed routine since the high school football season. But, VanMiddlesworth said, the routine has been changed since then. Characters Bond, Lady Bond and the villain have been added to the routine. Senior band members play those parts and are involved in an action scene in which Bond must rescue Lady Bond from the villain. After the villain falls to the ground, two other band members bring out a stretcher. But instead of carting the villain off the field, his trombone is rescued.
"It's a neat thing that's going to hopefully pack a punch with the audience and judges," VanMiddlesworth said. "If we can pull it off professionally, I think we'll have a real good chance down there."
The Marching Chieftains won't have much more rehearsal time in Kansas. They'll have one more practice time. A run-through from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday in either the THS gymnasium or on Beatty Field will be the band's last preparation here.
After the practice, the band will load the bus for Tennessee around midnight and head out at 2 p.m. Saturday.
VanMiddlesworth said the trip will conclude a hectic time for his band.
"I feel like I'm losing my mind, but it will come back," VanMiddlesworth said.