Band of the Week 2019 - Lakewood Ranch Marching Mustangs
Reporter's note: When writing this story, I wanted to include quite a bit of footage and interviews, but much of it just didn't fit the focus of the story -- a halftime show that honors those lost in such a short period of time. But in my experience, visiting Lakewood Ranch is exciting, both because of the students and because of their complicated drill. As a bonus, I've included a second video showing the band welcoming SNN to practice, some of the funny clips during the band's downtime, and some of our amusing exchanges during the interviews. I hope you enjoy! - Marco
BRADENTON - When visiting Lakewood Ranch High, you can always expect to be run over by the Mustangs' horse power. The quality of this award-winning band is a testament to the program Band Director Ron Lambert has grown.
"The person that challenges you and holds you accountable loves you more than the person that watches you stay the same and settle for mediocrity. So, I love you the most," Lambert shares during practice.
It was a big deal when Lambert decided to remain at the school this year. He was going to transfer to the new high school in Parrish, but changed his mind because "it was important to me to continue to see the program through," after the band endured heartbreak.
The band lost five members of the Mustangs family in 2018. Two - Shay Burch and Tony Shelton - were band parents, while Michael Higdon created the drill formations and visuals for the band since Lakewood Ranch High.
"He gave his whole life to us for like three months at a time every single year," says Mustangs Band Captain Madi McCoy.
Before any of this, trumpet player Dashwood Payen died in a crash after his car hit a curb and overturned. Co-drum major Eric Miller smiles as he remembers his fellow trumpet player and friend,
"Man, he was just a great person to be around. We'd kind of be like by ourselves, kind of just screwing around, laughing at each other. And it was just kind of a mutual friendship. And everyone loved him, too. He was awesome."
Losing one band member is tragic enough. But little did they know that the next marching season 15-year-old Matthew Powers, a clarinet player with the Mustangs, would die in a car crash.
"I personally knew Matt since middle school," McCoy remembers, "He was always this bubbly little dude. Just jump around, play the clarinet. That's all he wanted to do."
The band did not fill Powers' spot in a halftime show in honor of his memory.
Drum major Ethan Horn says the band also wore Matt's memory on their wrists.
"We had wristbands that said March on for Matt, and that kind of fueled our passion for the show to make it better and better and push to the end of the season," Horn says.
And thus, The Angular Objection show came into focus. On the field, angles represent shattered pieces of a broken heart. Angles which come together at the end of the show. The show proclaims that despite tragedy, the heart of the marching band will mend
Because we're never really forgotten by those who love us.
"The other day, Mr. Lambert showed us this poem," says co-drum major Mallory Shirey, "It talked about the winds and the leaves and how we'll always be remembered by that."
The end of the poem reads as follows:
Some days the wind is just the wind,
Without a memory behind,
And I let myself exhale thinking you've slipped out from my mind,
Until the sunlight hits the water the way it hit your eye,
And I must realize nothing ends, simply because you've said goodbye.
March on, Mustangs.