Tonganoxie’s Marching Chieftains looked sharp at Memphis game
Tonganoxie band director Charles VanMiddlesworth can say he almost bumped elbows with a country music star.
"I was 20 feet from her," VanMiddlesworth said, referring to musician LeAnn Rimes, who performed during Friday's Liberty Bowl halftime show. "How many times do you get to see an important person up close."
The THS Marching Chieftains performed alongside Rimes, and 11 other bands, during the show.
The game, which was televised on ESPN, pitted Houston against South Carolina. In a shootout, South Carolina won, 44-36.
Abe Jacobs, a freshman, said the contest was his first major college football game.
"I thought the field looked a lot smaller than it looks on TV," Jacobs explained.
The band trip, which started last Wednesday, was much more than a halftime show for the Marching Chieftains. The group participated in a parade and field show competition, placing third in the competition. THS scored around 80 on a 100-point scale.
"There were a lot of good bands there," he said, noting bands also came from Connecticut, Illinois and Florida. "I think the kids could not have done any better."
VanMiddlesworth said organizers extended an open invitation to any of the bowls that the group is affiliated with, which, along with the Liberty Bowl, include the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The band now has been to four bowl games, including Friday's game -- the 2000 Cotton Bowl, the 2002 Liberty Bowl and the 2004 Alamo Bowl.
While in Memphis, the band also participated in a jazz band clinic, performed in a parade and checked out some sights.
Band member Maggie Derzinski said the parade "was pretty cool."
But the best part, she said, was getting to know other band members from across the nation. There were roughly 1,100 band students at the event.
The bottom line for VanMiddlesworth was how well the band performed in competitions while in Memphis.
"We made our state proud and our community proud," VanMiddlesworth said. "And the Tonganoxie school district proud."