LAKEWOOD RANCH (SNN TV) - The marching band kids with whom SNN spoke at Lakewood Ranch High said 2020 savaged them, and 2021 humbled them. So did their 2022 marching season culminate in success?

Let's start with 2020 and 2021.

The Lakewood Ranch Mustang Marching Band is known for competing in state championships, but it was also known for being a lot bigger. Co-drum major Johnathan Torres says, “COVID really destroyed our band, and we’re still trying to build it up to where it used to be. So we’re getting there.”

The band dropped from 145 kids when these seniors started high school to 85 now.

“When COVID hit, we dropped significant numbers because we couldn’t advertise to the middle schools," says color guard co-captain Jasmine Burden. The guard members used to attend open houses and twirl flags for middle school students to amaze the kids and inspire them to continue performing and join Lakewood Ranch's band program.

They’re also coming off of a relatively disappointing state championship performance in 2021. It was a beautiful show, so that wasn't the issue! However, they placed 7th in the semi-finals, and they needed to place Top 5 to compete in the finals.

“The seniors in my freshman year class, everyone was really really dedicated to winning," says Jasmine, "We hadn’t gone to finals in a couple years; that was a really big drive for them. I feel like when my junior year show came along, we already felt we had it in the pocket, and it really humbled us.”

Color guard Co-Captain Amy Cook says that kind of thing is actually a motivator for kids coming into this program.

“Being sad you didn’t make finals, [and] the drive to get it next year," says Amy.

For a competitive band such as the Mustangs, state championships are what they’re always riding toward.

“It’s pretty exciting. Like all the competitions are but states is just like another level for us," says drum major Bryce Brielmann.

“I feel like it brings the whole band together more, so we get our score and we're all excited how hard we worked together," says Johnathan.

That brings us to this year’s show.

“The show’s called Dark Waters," explains Bryce, "[it] follows the story of Poseidon who loses his trident and his power over the sea.”

"We're also Poseidon's soldiers," says Amy.

"Yeah, trying to get the trident back," explains Jasmine.

It's a show they did take to the state championship and ultimately placed 4th in their class. And if pouring rain hadn’t canceled the finals, they’d have performed again for the opportunity to bring home the state title. It’s the thrill of performance and achievement that sucked Jasmine into the band in the first place.

“It all started literally right over there at the front of the school. Someone was twirling a flag and they were like, 'Here, try it! Try throwing it!' And that was what got me hooked for the next four years," she says.

Followed by the comradery that kept her there.

“The summer before my freshman year, we started band camp so I got to know a lot of people and I would get to see them in the halls, and I would be like, 'Oh my gosh, I know them!' and I felt so much safer," Jasmine gushes. "This program has really done a lot for me; I've made so many friendships that are going to last me so long. Everything about marching band and winter guard, I really love this program."

“Um, same," Amy laughs.

As an online bonus: in 2019, one band student decided to do the Macarena in front of the camera. In 2021, he did an encore. Having graduated, another students picks up the mantle in 2022.