Band of the Week 2019 - North Port High Marching Bobcats
NORTH PORT - Senior Amaya Cartagena has been a drum major at North Port High for three years, and that presents a challenge when teaching freshmen how to march.
"Freshman year is always a really big learning curve. It's your first year in marching band. You're learning how to march and play. Your freshman year is never your best year of marching, and I only had one year," Cartagena says.
If she had been at North Port High 18 years ago, she'd had been responsible for far fewer kids. North Port's marching band started with 16 kids 18 years ago. Now it's 125 kids.
Band directors Dr. Bradley and Mrs. A head the band. Dr. Bradley's been here from the beginning. Band captain and senior Grace Hugel says he is part of the reason graduating will be bittersweet.
"I'm leaving the band, yes, but I'm also leaving Dr. Bradley who I've known for the past four years and gotten to know better and better who has helped me in so many ways," Hugel says, "He is basically the band. Without him, it would be different. It'd be way different than without him."
One thing he instills in the band: taking disappointment professionally. Last weekend, Cartagena had high expectations that the Bobcats would score a superior rating at their annual marching assessment with the halftime show based on the band Queen.
"We have the past four years. So hopefully this makes the fifth year that we're making a superior," she told us when we visited.
Instead, they scored a notch lower with an overall Excellent rating. And while disappointing, Dr. Bradley told me in 2016 during their first Band of the Week story, "Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't, and that's just the way life is."
It's about the experience a program like this creates.
"Marching band is gonna be a place where you make memories that you'll remember for the rest of your life and friends that you'll take away out of high school and for the rest of your life. The band room is always there. It's always home no matter what happens," Cartagena says.
"I hope that later on in life we all reconnect and have a very big reunion or something," remarks Hugel.