Band students journal on trip to Liberty Bowl
Editor's note: Tonganoxie High Marching Chieftain band members Lindsey Gonser and Jake Bontrager returned home late Saturday, along with other band members, from a trip to Memphis, Tenn., for the Liberty Bowl. At the request of The Mirror, Gonser and Bontrager, both THS juniors, wrote about their experiences on that trip. Here are their reports:
This Christmas break the Tonganoxie High School Band traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to attend the Liberty Bowl. On the 26th we arrived at the band room at 10:30 p.m. to check in and tag all of our luggage that we had packed the hour before. As we left at midnight, we set out for our 10-plus hour drive to Memphis. And let me tell you, as a band student you learn to sleep comfortably on a bus.
As we arrived and settled into the sights of Memphis, our first pit stop was Graceland -- a museum honoring all of Elvis Presley's lifetime achievements. Once that was over we headed to our AmeriSuite Hotel where we waited for the last of our rooms to be cleaned. As we unloaded our luggage, we changed clothes -- in about five minutes -- and then headed off to the Hard Rock Cafe for a night of great food and a band-sized dance to "YMCA."
Once dinner was over with we packed on our bus and went to the Liberty Bowl Rodeo where all the other bands attended also. The rodeo was complete with
bucking broncs, team roping, bareback, barrel racing and, last but not least, bull riding.
An early wake-up call at 5:30 a.m. had a lot of people groggy. As we were rushed through breakfast we had the 8:45 a.m. field show and then about 2 1/2 hours of massed band rehearsal.
As we left the rehearsal we were hurried to our busses for the parade. Once in line we waited our turn and marched the shortest parade -- two blocks long -- of my marching career. Once done, and pumped up from our latest triumph, we left for the awards banquet. This is where we received third place in our 2A parade marching.
This day the wake-up was at 6:30 a.m. -- NOT as bad -- it was an extra hour of sleep. Anyway we went to our second massed band rehearsal -- that was practiced in the stadium -- and got our first glance at the bowl that we would be attending.
After a quick bite to eat we headed back to the bowl and set up for the game.
As halftime neared we dressed and left. As we entered the field it was an unexplainable feeling seeing all the people who came to enjoy the game. We flawlessly played along with LeAnn Rimes for the halftime field show.
As we marched off the field everyone felt a sense of accomplishment, as all of the performances we'd come to do were finished.
Once over, we trudged home and packed our bags and jumped into bed ready for our last day before we leave.
Our band headed to Memphis at midnight (a great idea when you have 70-plus teenagers) on Dec. 27.
We arrived umpteen hours later, lacking sleep but all of us ready to just get out and stretch; we'd been confined for FAR too long! Graceland, our first stop, proved entertaining, but lots of people in one house results in uncomfortable crowding (I personally enjoy a spacious personal bubble).
We ate and shopped for a while and then headed to our hotel where we found that our rooms weren't done. This meant ANOTHER hour packed in our charter bus. By the time we got in, we had to rush back out to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, a tradition of the band. I was sick, so I can't vouch for the food, but Mr. Van and a portion of our band's rendition (of YMCA) made great entertainment.
Thursday started at 5:30 a.m. and kicked off with the field show competition. We practiced, got our usual pep talk and performed our field show for the final time. Massed band rehearsal for the halftime show came next. A boxed lunch later, we went and marched the shortest, yet most intense parade of our careers. Intensity was high and thousands of people packed into the streets to watch!
My entire section (trombones, who rule!) was spot-on and it made for an amazing high. We returned to the hotel, dressed up and departed for our dinner, dance and awards presentation. This is what we'd all been waiting for! We only came out with one award and were disappointed, but Van cheered us up.
After sleeping in, we had another massed band rehearsal that morning, this time in full uniform: tall pants, suspenders, tiny jackets with buttons out the wazoo and uncomfortable shoes for multiple hours.
Lunch was a hodge podge of ham and turkey sandwiches and a cold drumstick. The game came around and we watched the yodeler from "America's Got Talent" sing, then watched the first quarter of the Gamecocks vs. the Cougars. Then, the moment we'd been waiting for finally arrived: a halftime performance with LeAnn Rimes!
Though it was hard to hear at times, it was still amazingly cool (but that's probably because I'm a sucker for country music). Again, we came "home" to relax, unwind and pack.
Finally, Saturday arrived. I had to get dressed up for jazz rather than being comfortable (ties are not my favorite things in the world). We, of course, amazed the judges with our smooth styling and got a few pointers for upcoming performances. Then we headed home.
As I'm writing this we sit only an hour away from home.
Being my last bowl trip, the Liberty Bowl was fun. It had its ups and downs, but every trip does, right? Plus, how many people can honestly say they've played with LeAnn Rimes?
Since I can't determine a proper ending, I'll finish with the one phrase that we've said far too many times to count -- "Yeah Band!"