Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bingham band: Jared Edwards profile

In late January, I interviewed Jared Edwards, the section leader of the Bingham High School Marching Band's Front Ensemble group. They played to their own tune, so to speak. Here is the article that will appear in the Bingham 2012 Marching Band yearbook.

Jared Edwards:       

They didn’t mind the jokes because
they had their own musical agenda

 By Bruce Smith

             The Front Ensemble group of the Bingham Marching Band was primarily in their own world.
            Their instruments were too big – and bulky – to join the rest of the group. They became “The Pit” and accepted their role with a smile.
            “Percussion was going all summer,” said section leader Jared Edwards. “By the time we got to Band Camp (in early August), we had most of the songs memorized and were working on specific details. We didn’t have much time off. The most I had off was when I got my wisdom teeth out (three days).
            “Yet everyone still called us lazy,” he added. “We had to live with stuff like that.”
            Edwards wasn’t totally serious, of course. He and the other 10 members of the group relished their time together. He called it a great year, starting with Camp and ending with Bingham’s finish at the Bands of America competition.
            “In 30 years, the thing I’ll remember most was the Bands of America. It was a long trip (to California, with a return stop in St. George), and it was cramped.  We had a lot of camaraderie.”
            The camaraderie started early in the summer and, with the help of instructor Jake Van Weezep, the group was more finely tuned by the time Camp began on Aug. 9. Edwards said they felt more comfortable with what needed to be accomplished.
            “There was quite a bit of goofing off, but that’s what made it the most fun,” Edwards said.
            It also resulted in a lot of advantages.
            We got to stay inside. It was great,” he said. “Everyone else was outside (in the 90-degree heat). We were excused from the morning warm-ups. We came in at noon and were only there for eight hours. We had to set up and be ready to play at noon and then we’d play until dinner. At that point, we would move our stuff to be outside with the band.”
            Edwards’ role in the Bingham band actually started a little late. Most of his family are musically talented and he got interested in playing an instrument in seventh grade. At first, he chose the drums, but soon realized he liked instruments that involved mallets and started mastering the vibraphone. He became aware of the Marching Band his sophomore year and joined as a junior.
            He said he didn’t know many people in the band outside of his group, which also included his younger sister, Rachel. He said it was nice having her in the group, even though she sometimes told embarrassing stories about him to her friends.
            It was also nice having her at the team’s late-season trip to Disneyland. The group spent one day there (Halloween) when the crowds were relatively thin. Edwards said he liked the roller coasters best, but it was difficult to get motivated at first became they arrived there after an all-night bus ride from South Jordan.
            Now that the season is over, Edwards said he turns 18 on July 3 and planned to go on an LDS Church mission shortly afterward. After that, he’d like to go to college and major in engineering. Music will likely just be a hobby.

Bingham band: Anthony Olivares profile

In late January, I interviewed Anthony Olivares, who was the section leader of the Bingham Marching Band's drum line. He had a lot to say about the creative talents and abilities of his group and they had a fun year, even if they weren't always understood by others. Here is the article that will appear in the Bingham 2012 Marching Band yearbook.

Anthony Olivares:
He led a creative group that wasn’t
understood except by themselves
By Bruce Smith
            The drum line section was always in the middle of the Bingham Marching Band performances. Handling one of the most well-known instruments, the group was often the center of attention.
            If not for their play, then for their actions.
            The section, including its leader, Anthony Olivares, wasn’t always understood by the rest of the formation. For much of the season, they were on their own and developed their own attitude.
            “We typically did our own thing,” Olivares said. “We often were doing things we weren’t supposed to. Sometimes the rules are a little too strict. Everybody (in his group) was complaining and I would try to keep them happy and keep (band director Darin) Graber happy.
            “Spencer (Lepley, the head drum major) didn’t like that. He wanted us to conform to every rule.”
            In a long season, discipline frequently keeps team’s focused. There was no doubt the Bingham band had that, as shown by its season-long improvement that eventually resulted in a third-place finish among the larger Utah schools at the Band of America competition in St. George.
            “That was our best (performance),” Olivares said. “It was so good that there people crying over it. I didn’t celebrate, but for a lot of people, this was their very last competition and it was a great way to end.”
            For this 13-member group, though, sometimes it was the means that justified the ends.
            “For us, the highlight was midseason,” he said. “Things were flowing and there wasn’t much commotion. I liked to keep us more of a section and be unified so we can learn how to deal with each other better.
            “We had a lot of fun,” he added. “We had a guy from California (Jake Goehring) come and and took our co-captain’s spot. He was the most creative and spot-on funny guy. In any situation, he could come up with a witty comment. Being with him made it a lot more fun.”
            Olivares also pointed to Andrew Smith, who sometimes showed his funny attitude.
            “Andrew was one of the tenor players. The bases didn’t talk much. They were the silent, but favorite group,” he said. “It was mostly the tenors and snares that were obnoxious, but it was pretty funny to us.”
            Olivares said the unifying factor for the drum line was Larry Edvalson, an experienced percussion instructor who, in his first year, provided a lot of good advice to the squad.
            “He was a big help and we learned a lot from him,” Olivares said.
            Olivares said he hoped to continue learning after the season ended. Besides band, he said another highlight of his schooling has been working with special needs kids.
            He also wants be active in music. He started playing the drums in seventh grade and now has experience in virtually all the percussion instruments. He planned to perform with the South County Percussion drum line in Provo and try to earn a music scholarship to the University of Utah.
            “I’d really like to make a career out of it,” he said. “ I don’t know in what way, but I’ll find something.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stansbury football: Colton May profile

In late January, I interviewed Stansbury (Utah) linebacker Colton May, who led the Stallions' defense and was a big part in the team's success in only the school's fourth season. Here is the article that will appear in the Stansbury 2012 football yearbook.

Colton May:

 He came into the season motivated
and led Stallions’ best-ever defense

By Bruce Smith
            Colton May left the Stansbury football program as one of its most well-decorated.
            It almost didn’t happen that way. But because he approached the 2012 football season so motivated, success couldn’t help but follow – for him and the team.
            As a junior, the 6-foot, 200-pounder was a stalwart on the Stallions’ 2011 team, which won their first region title, finished the season with a 9-2 record and made it to the second round of the 3A playoffs. Even though Stansbury had an impressive run in only its third year of existence, giving up just 12 points per game, only Jeremy CafĂ© made first team all-state.
            May had a team-high 103 tackles and made three interceptions but, surprisingly, he didn’t even make honorable mention.
            He put that snub to good use.
            “I felt deprived,” he said. “It was one of my goals to get all-state and break my record of tackles that I had last year. I also wanted to average in double figures in tackles per game.
            “I worked very hard this year to get that recognition,” he added. “Being elected first team all-state was my best highlight.”
            May played almost entirely on defense. At linebacker, he was all over the field, and was often able to relax late in games after Stansbury built comfortable leads.
            However, he appreciated the close games more, and that’s where he made his mark. That was never more noticeable during a midseason stretch of games. It started in the Stallions’ 29-28 overtime win over Morgan, where May broke his own record with 16 tackles.
            The following week, he achieved even more as Stansbury defeated Desert Hills 12-7, avenging the playoff loss from the year before. That win gave the Stallions a lot of confidence.
            “Revenge was sweet, that’s for sure,” May said. “But our team really came together at that point. It was very memorable.”
            “He had a great season,” said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen. “He was our leader on defense and had a great attitude. We had a lot of team speed and he was part of it.”
            Another memorable moment for May came at Grantsville, even though he wasn’t part of it. On the Cowboys’ “Senior Night,” the Stallions averted a loss when Iosua Opeta and Ronnie Hill blew open a hole on an extra-point kick and Jackson Clausing blocked it, which led to Stansbury’s eventual 14-13 victory.
            May grew up playing many different sports. He began playing competitive football in fourth grade with guys like Clausing, Chandler Staley and Cole Merseth and became great friends with them. Together, they helped the Stallions go from a low-level squad to a 3A championship contender.
            “It was really exciting to see what we could accomplish,” May said.
            He said he could see Stansbury’s potential during his sophomore year. Playing sub-varsity against 4A teams at the time, he relished the challenge of going up against the bigger schools. He said Christiansen kept most of the underclassmen off the varsity at that time to prepare them better.
            “Coach was kind of grooming us,” he said. “Coach broke us down and made us more disciplined. He made it so we wanted to work harder.”
            On defense, there was no harder worker on the field. May finished his Stansbury football career with an amazing 234 tackles, a record that likely will be difficult for anyone to break. As a team, the Stallions also improved. They won another region crown, finished 11-1 and the defense held opponents to an average of 10.5 points per game.
            There were also four shutouts, including a 55-0 pounding of county rival Tooele. May said the only lowlight was Stansbury’s 20-13 loss to eventual champion Dixie.
            With football over, May said he planned to compete in the short sprints (100, 200 meters) on Stansbury’s track and field team. After graduation, he hoped to go on an LDS Church mission and then earn a scholarship to play football at Dixie State in St. George.
            “They showed a lot of interest and I like the coaches down there,” he said. “The weather is great and I’d like to stay in state close to my family.”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Brighton football: 2012 season recap

The Brighton (Utah) High School Bengals finished the 2012 season with an 8-5 record. Here is the article that will appear in the team's 2012 football yearbook.

Making history
Hot start gives Bengals momentum, but it was
the way they finished that will be remembered

 By Bruce Smith
            In Brighton High School football lore, it will just be remembered as “the play.” There may be others in Brighton history, but now there’s certainly another.
            Fourth down and 12 yards to go. The clock was winding down with just over a minute remaining. The Bengals were playing West Jordan in a play-in game on a comfortable Monday afternoon at Hillcrest High’s field and trailed 7-6. The winner would go to the playoffs, the loser went home.
            The Bengals had a good season going. They would eventually finish with an 8-5 record. They started the season winning their first five games, including an impressive 21-14 comeback victory over Davis in the opener.
            “We had a very successful year. Best since 2005,” said coach Ryan Bullett. “Winning at Davis … I had been trying to do that for a long time and we talked about it a lot. But if we hadn’t beaten West Jordan, I don’t know how important it would still be.”
            On that memorable play, freshman quarterback Drew Jensen couldn’t rely on his best runners – Uaea and Osa Masina. The Bengals’ backs averaged almost six yards per carry during the season running behind a talented line.
            On this play, Jensen’s only option was to hurl a deep “Hail Mary” pass.
            “We were dead in the water, but a lot of kids kept believing that something would happen,” Bullett recalled. “The play was 89-Jet and he had to catch it.”
            Alec McArdle leaped between two defenders to catch it about the 10-yard line. He took two steps toward the goal line, but suddenly dropped the ball and it scooted into the end zone. As fans from both sides of the field screamed as loud as they could, McArdle caught up to the ball and dove on it with about a foot to spare.
            It was McArdle’s second reception of the season and his only touchdown.
            “I didn’t know what to think when I caught that ball; I just ran,” McArdle said. “Then I dropped it and thought, ‘Oh crap, I have to get it, no matter what.’ When he (the nearby official) signaled touchdown, it was just happiness. We’re going to state.”
            It was the fourth time in the last five years Brighton had been forced to play an extra game to make the postseason, and the first time the Bengals won. Despite injury problems to the Masina brothers, Brighton was in every game. The season finally ended in the first round of the 5A playoffs when the Bengals lost 24-17 to defending champion Lone Peak.
            “We had a tough schedule, and our region was really tough,” said Bullett. “In the first five games, we were plus-10 (in turnovers) and had a lot of momentum. Overall, the kids really battled.”
            Offensive lineman Jackson Barton, a 6-foot-8, 270-pound junior, was named first team all-state. Osa Masina made second team in one newspaper and Uaea was in the other. The two brothers played both ways and combined for almost 1,300 rushing yards. Uaea also had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and received a scholarship from the University of Utah.
            The strength of the team was clearly the line – on both sides of the ball. Led by Barton (who also accepted an offer from Utah), Josh Menna, Ethan Finlinson, Lowell Groberg, Tyson Aldridge, Aaron Sleight, J.J. Mahe and others, they had a great size advantage. In most games, Brighton’s running game controlled the clock and kept the pressure off Jensen, who rarely – if ever – hurt the team, despite his youth.
            “He had a good season,” Bullett said. “He did everything we asked him to.”
            Isaiah Kaufusi, Chandler Gee and Tyson Reid were capable receivers. On defense, Kekoa Kane easily led the team in tackles. Kaufusi was also a force. He and McArdle topped the team in interceptions.
            The Bengals didn’t win state. They didn’t win region and, in fact, barely made the playoffs. But they did it, and in a memorable fashion.

Brighton football: Uaea Masina profile

In mid-January, I interviewed Uaea Masina, Brighton's talented RB/LB, who played a big role on the Bengals' football team. Here is the article that will appear in the Brighton 2012 football yearbook.

Uaea Masina:
Injuries forced him and the Bengals
to adjust their game to find success
By Bruce Smith
            If it hadn’t been for injuries, Uaea Masina might have been one of the most prolific players in Brighton football history.
            Growing up, he played football, soccer and basketball and was always among the best players. Now, at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, he focused solely on football. The University of Utah recognized this and offered him a scholarship after his junior year.
            Playing behind Brighton’s talented line, everything was set for a great senior season.
            “It was a fun year, but there were some letdowns,” he said. “Getting hurt and losing some games we shouldn’t have lost.”
            It started with a rush. He had 129 yards in the opener at Davis, including a 28-yard touchdown run that was the deciding score. After the season, he said it was his favorite game, but for another reason.
            “I got to play with my brother (Osa),” he admitted. “I don’t know how many times we ran that quarterback draw where he would take the ball and just ran free. I was blocking for him on those plays.”
            For the season, Uaea rushed for 622 yards. He averaged just over six yards per carry and his blocks probably accounted for a lot more. A knee injury in Brighton’s win at Sky View the third week of the season, however, ended up being a big deal. He reinjured it against Jordan six weeks later.
            In all, he played maybe half of the Bengals’ games. However, it was the confidence he gave others that was missed the most.
            “When Uaea was on, everybody else raised their game,” said coach Ryan Bullett.
            Like most players, Uaea often relived the injury as he stood on the sidelines.
            “I was playing defense. It was right after half,” he recalled. “A guy came across and tripped against my knee and just took it out. I couldn’t even practice. I had to go visit a physical therapist.”
            Brighton adjusted by giving more playing time to Osa. Just a sophomore, Osa had showed potential in the Bengals’ earlier games and he ended up leading the team in rushing. When Uaea returned, their combined experience made the Bengals even better.
            “We knew what each other was thinking,” Uaea said. “We could just look at each other and know. We had great chemistry.”
            When the Masina brothers were both in the game, Brighton had one of the best 1-2 running tandems in the state. When Uaea returned against Alta, Osa had become such a force that Uaea could focus his talents more elsewhere. Even though he was still hobbled at Alta, he gave the Bengals a big momentum boost by returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
            Two weeks later, Uaea made the play of the game on defense, wrestling the ball from a West Jordan ball carrier in the fourth quarter that helped seal a 20-14 victory.
            “I tried to do as much as I could,” Uaea said. “I didn’t want to miss (playing) Alta. The Thursday before the game, I was finally able to run. I tried to get back in shape and get my lungs back, but that was about it.”
            In retrospect, Brighton had become two teams – one with both Masina brothers and one without.
            “When Uaea was out, we realized we couldn’t rely on him,” said Bullett. “But we built a lot of team chemistry. Even when we weren’t winning all of our games, we still believed in ourselves.”
            Part of that was because Brighton felt it could run the ball on anybody. The Bengals often controlled time of possession, giving their defense some rest and relieving the pressure on freshman quarterback Drew Jensen. For the season, the Bengals averaged 5.8 yards per carry and Uaea and Osa combined for 1,328 yards and 15 touchdowns.
            It also gave them valuable memories, even if they weren’t able to reach their potential.
            “I was just getting a feel for the game,” Uaea said. “But I’m going to U. to play some more. I can’t wait.”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brighton football: Ethan Finlinson profile

In mid-January, I interviewed Ethan Finlinson, a lineman for the Brighton (Utah) High School football team. He was in a good mood and his laugh is catching. He had a good season, and even a shoulder injury didn't dampen his spirits. Here is the article that will appear in the Brighton 2012 football yearbook.

Ethan Finlinson:
Late injury put a damper on his season,
but Bengals’ success kept his spirits up

 By Bruce Smith

                Ethan Finlinson was introduced to football rather late – in the eighth grade. And, in retrospect, it was his senior year at Brighton High School that – by far – had the biggest impact.
            Finlinson was part of Brighton’s dominating line. At 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, however, he was considered the lightweight.
            “I brought down our average (size),” he said, laughing. “But we all worked together and had fun. That’s what was important. We had fun the whole year.”
            It started in the summer. Playing in local 7-on-7 tournaments, Finlinson said it was pretty obvious that the Bengals would be pretty good in 2012. He ended up playing both ways. He broke his shoulder, however, in Brighton’s game at Jordan and spent the rest of the time on the bench.
            Watching the remaining games was difficult, but it didn’t dampen his spirit.
            “My favorite memory was beating Davis on their home turf,” he said. “The last couple of seconds, taking a knee and letting the clock run down. We celebrated on the bus, going crazy. It was our best game and Davis was always a tough game for us.”
            All during summer workouts, Finlinson said the Bengals had been looking forward to playing Davis. The 21-14 victory allowed the team to start to live up to its preseason hype.
            “We wanted to trash them. Every day in the weight room during the off season we would break in with a ‘Beat Davis’ cheer, and then we did it.”
            Finlinson was a big part. Although his statistics didn’t show it, he was part of the offensive line that helped the running game average over 200 yards per contest – and 5.8 yards per carry. The defense also had its share of good games, especially early in the year when the Bengals won their first five games.
            Davis was the first victim. Then came Fremont, Sky View, American Fork and Pleasant Grove. Finlinson said his best game was at American Fork. However, his best individual memory was at home vs. West Jordan, when he teamed with Lowell Groberg to sack the Jaguars’ quarterback.
            “It was early in the game and it was just one of those key shots,” he said. “I blindsided him right in the back. I was going for a kill shot.”
            It also ended up being one of his last memories because he was hurt the following week. He still went to practice, and dressed in full uniform for the games, but was unable to play. He still remained involved, and will never forget the team’s best memory – Alec McArdle’s “Hail Mary” catch in the play-in game against West Jordan.
            “I saw the whole thing,” Finlinson said. “I couldn’t stand not to watch it. When he dropped it (the ball), I almost crapped myself. I saw him dive on it and I saw the refs signal touchdown. It was crazy after that. I was yelling so loud. I was so happy.”
            The Bengals’ season was a big change from previous years. He made a lot of friends playing football. In 2011, he got a lot of playing time on Brighton’s junior varsity team, and was used sparingly on varsity.
            “I remember some of the players … how they played. It was inspiring to be like them,” he said. “We only had 15 or so kids on our JV team, so I had to play both ways.”
            Finlinson is the second oldest of four kids. After high school, he planned to go on an LDS Church mission and then attend the University of Utah. He hadn’t decided on a major, but his favorite high-school classes were science, math and commercial art.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brighton football: J.J. Mahe profile

In mid-January, I interviewed J.J. Mahe, who was a talented lineman for the Brighton football team. Here is the article that will appear in the Brighton 2012 football yearbook.

J.J. Mahe:

 His physical play on the defensive line
forced teams to make him their focus

By Bruce Smith

             Wearing uniform No. 53, J.J. Mahe had a big impact on the Brighton football team.
            The offensive line got most of the preseason hype but, in practice, they had to go up against Mahe. In games, it was the defense that frequently kept the Bengals alive. It started in the season opener against Davis, when the Darts were held scoreless in the second half on their home field.
            The following week, Brighton blanked Fremont 27-0 and, afterward, at least one Bengal coach exclaimed, “now that’s Brighton football.”
            Tough, tenacious, physical. Twenty one players weighed in at 200 pounds or more. Mahe was one of the heaviest – at 310 – and the most athletic. He said coaches often noted that he had quick feet, and that he never gave up on plays, which set him apart from other players.
            “It was a great year. We did so much. Probably one of the best years we’ve had here since 2005,” said Mahe. “I’ll never forget those times.
            “The best part was the excitement we felt even before the season started. It was the biggest line we had in a long time. All of our line were returning starters. We knew it would be a better year. I don’t think other teams knew. We were unexpected.”
            Mahe finished with 32 tackles – ranking fifth on the team – but those statistics didn’t show how his true value. His quickness often forced opponents to adjust their plans. He frequently disrupted plays, even if he didn’t get in on the tackle.
            In Brighton’s first five games, the Bengals allowed just 11.6 points per game.
            Mahe said there were two turning points for the Bengals.
            * - The first came at halftime of the Davis game, when Brighton rallied for a 21-14 win.
            “After that game, we knew it was going to be a long, fun year,” Mahe said.
            * - The second came two months later. Brighton had lost to Cottonwood 20-0 in a play-in game and faced West Jordan for the final playoff spot at Hillcrest High’s field. Some of the players were dejected, but it was the beginning of what would be a momentous day.
            “The coaches started tell us great (inspirational) stories and all of the seniors starting cheering up and got excited,” he said.
            The contest’s deciding play came with about a minute left when Alec McArdle made a leaping catch of a “Hail Mary” pass and scored the go-ahead touchdown. Mahe was on the sideline when it happened, but will always remember the scene.
            “I saw Alec jump up and catch it,” he said. “Then he dropped it. I just fell on my knees and said, ‘Thank God’ when he got it (the ball) back.”
            Mahe’s career at Brighton started his freshmen year. He lived in the East High boundaries, but followed his father, Sione, who was an assistant coach with the Bengals. J.J. is the oldest of five children, but so far it seems his siblings will all be Leopards.
            Besides football, Mahe played on Brighton’s rugby team, which made it to the state championship game two consecutive seasons. He suffered a dislocated shoulder his junior year, which forced him to miss rugby in 2012 and play in pain during most of his senior football season.
            Mahe said he had surgery shortly after the football season and had high hopes that his play would eventually result in a college football scholarship.
            He planned to go on an LDS Church mission shortly after graduation.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bingham band: Spencer Lepley profile

In early January, I interviewed Spencer Lepley, the drum major for the Bingham High School (Utah) Marching Band. He was a class act and turned a potentially negative situation during the season into a positive one - and record success for the team ensued. Here is the article that will appear in the Bingham Marching Band's 2012 yearbook.

Spencer Lepley:

 His huge efforts advanced his character
and gave him high hopes for his future

 By Bruce Smith
            Spencer Lepley had a whirlwind senior year at Bingham High School.
            It probably started the previous April when, at the Bingham band’s end-of-the-year banquet, he was named to be the Marching Band’s Drum Major.
            That meant long days of practice, often arriving 45 minutes before and staying 45 minutes after most everyone else. He also had to know the music better than anyone and was involved in instructing others to keep the proper tempo.
            “I thought it would be more fun,” he said. “It was definitely more challenging. Probably the most challenging of anything I’ve ever done.”
            That’s saying a lot because one of the prerequisites to hold the band’s most-highlighted position is that smiling is not allowed, even while accepting a trophy following a performance.
            Lepley also did it all while carrying the burden of trying to be accepted into the Merchant Marine Academy. His schedule also included volunteer work at the Veterans Administration Hospital and he had off-campus studies to earn a pilot’s license.
            And, oh yes, he had his Bingham High classes.
            But of all those activities, he wouldn’t trade his band experience for anything.
            “It was a lot of hard work and, overall, the season was a success. We only came up in the 5A class a couple of years ago and we got third in state. We just kept progressing. We were all thrilled at how it ended, especially the seniors because it was their last year. It felt great to accomplish something.”
            There was some drama along the way. Midway through the season, he and his good friend Anders Evensen, the Senior Drum Major, switched positions on the field. Lepley, however, admitted the move actually helped the band and the way he handled the move impressed a lot of people.
            “Spencer knew his job solid. The night we moved him, he was not feeling well,” said band director Darin Graber. “I told him to go take a break and we made a change.
            “Spencer was still in charge. It was his band,” Graber added. “He accepted it and they both did a great job when we needed them.”
            “Anders had a better tempo than I did,” Lepley explained. “The music is the biggest part of our score and we really noticed it during practice run throughs. It wasn’t the greatest thing to happen to me, but it didn’t kill me. I still had the same amount of responsibility. It just meant I wasn’t on the biggest ladder.”
            Perhaps more importantly, he became a bigger person.
            Lepley is the oldest of three children. He joined the marching band in ninth grade, with experience playing the bari sax. He and Evensen were selected to be junior Drum Majors last year. His sister, McKenzie, is also part of the band.
            After the marching band season ended, he was part of the pep band and jazz band. He also continued his volunteer efforts.
            “I help transport patients,” he said. “Some of them are in gurneys or beds. Initially, I got involved because it looked good on college applications, but I really have a lot of fun. Some of those guys are veterans and they’ll tell me stories about Vietnam and Korea (wars).”
            At press time, Lepley said he still had a lot of work to do to reach his goal of attending the Merchant Marine Academy in Long Island, N.Y. He still must write an essay and pass a physical fitness test that included running, throwing a basketball (for distance) while on his knees, pushups, chin-ups and more. After that, he hopes to go into flight school.
            And all that he has learned as the Bingham Marching Band’s top man should help.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bingham band: Anders Evensen profile

In early January, I interviewed Anders Evensen, who was the senior drum major for the Bingham High School (Utah) marching band. Here is the article about him that will appear in the Bingham 2012 band yearbook.

Anders Evensen:
His ability to keep Bingham in tempo
boosted the band closer to the top

By Bruce Smith

            Anders Evensen had a knack – or a rare ability – that was discovered early in the Bingham Marching Band’s 2012 season.
            After years of playing the clarinet, Evensen thought the drum major “looked pretty cool” and, late in his sophomore year, decided to pursue that spot. Fortunately, for the first time, Bingham decided it needed two drum majors in his class, and he and Spencer Lepley were selected.
            “We went to three because of the size of the band, and they all did well,” said band director Darin Graber.
            Evensen became the senior drum major this year, but Graber said “he knew his stuff and did a great job when we needed him. He was there and prepared.”
            “The best part was learning that the band director trusts you a lot,” said Evensen. “It was really a great leadership experience for me. You don’t get something like that often … to be in charge of 130 people.
            “I got to know a bunch of people and they got to know me,” he added. “I didn’t miss playing an instrument because I was playing in the symphony orchestra and the wind symphony. I wouldn’t trade it.”
            During practice and Bingham’s performances, Evensen had a reserved seat on a ladder overlooking the field. His job was to memorize the music, develop the tempo for the show and get everyone into a rhythm. He also had to always be composed, regardless of how he felt.
            “It’s hard to fit into words,” he said. “You have to show discipline and be an example. It’s just what we do.”
            Evensen is the second youngest of five children. Both of his parents encouraged their children to get involved in music. Evensen chose the clarinet because his older sister played it. Besides music, Evensen is also involved in Bingham’s Academic Decathlon team and plays recreational league soccer.
            He said his best memory of the marching band season was how Bingham finished in the Bands of America competition. He also had recalled some of the small, but fun moments, the team had getting there.
            * - “In my junior year, somehow my ladder was broken. I had to stand on it very carefully and it was the scariest show of my life.”
            * - “There also one practice where we had sent off all the (band) equipment practice off with the trailer and we didn’t have any equipment. It was a weird practice.”
            Evensen said that, after graduation, he planned to play in Salt Lake Community band in various parades during the summer and then attend college.

Bingham band: Rachel Colton profile

In early January, I interviewed Rachel Colton, who served as mellophone section leader and was the actual president of the Bingham High School (Utah) marching band. She is a talented young woman that also had to deal with a rare setback. Here is the article that will appear in the Bingham 2012 band yearbook.

Rachel Colton:

One of team’s most talented players
led Bingham’s surge to raise the bar

By Bruce Smith
            In so many ways, Rachel Colton stood out in the Bingham Marching Band.
            Her red hair is just one. In her case, though, that trait is low on the list.
            Colton was the mellophone section leader, but she was also the band president.  Her creativity is off the charts. She is on the school honor roll and is already an accomplished artist. As a senior, she also had to deal with an unusual curse.
            An allergy to the sun. That’s right. That big orange ball in the sky.
            “If I got more than a couple of hours in the sun, my ankles would swell,” she said. “It was painful, but I got to sit in the shade a lot and watch from a different point of view.”
            Last spring, her condition caused her to swell shut for a couple of days. Colton, however, had a positive, even confident, outlook. She dealt with the brief disfigurement well, and survived having to explain her rare diagnosis.
            “It made marching a lot harder,” she said. “Other than that, it wasn’t a big deal.”
            Her attributes were quickly noticed by band director Darin Graber and last year’s council, which voted her into the band’s top position.
            “She had already been in leadership,” Graber said. “She played the mellophone, which is difficult. You have to live with its imperfections and they (the mellophone group) knew their parts cold.
            “She was on our ‘disabled list’ and had to deal with kids dropping (out),” he added. “To finish as strong as we did, that speaks volumes for this ensemble. They were solid.”
            Colton’s musical career started young. She is the oldest of four children. Both of her parents played in their high school band. Colton began playing the piano at age 5 or 6 and then developed a strong interest in the drums. In middle school, that instrument wasn’t offered so she chose the French horn. Now, she teaches piano lessons, but also has experience with the flute, cello, clarinet, trumpet and even the guitar.
            “I have a lot of interests,” she said. “(In the future), I can always change to different careers.”
            Colton played in the marching band for three years. She said she noticed a “drastic change” in the band’s attitude this year and loved the fact that the group “raised the bar.” Her primary highlight of marching band was like everyone else’s – finishing in third place at the Bands of America competition and walking past many of the other teams and having them stand and cheer.
            She also had fond memories of the meals. Before each competition, the band’s booster club would provide a meal to the group. Last year, she said there was a food fight with a heavy dose of grapes.
            “This year, we were always cautious about grapes,” she said. “I’ll never look at grapes the same way.”
            Colton also had another impressive highlight, but it didn’t involve band. She has always had a strong interest – and talent – in art and had some of her work published in a Bingham High literary magazine called “Ambience.”
            “They had a contest and I won,” she recalled. “I did the cover and each of the beginning of each chapter. That was cool to be published.”
            Colton said she will turn 19 years old next October and planned to immediately serve an LDS Church mission. Upon returning, she hoped to attend Utah State University and major in either music or art.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bingham band: Scott James profile

In early January, I interviewed Scott James, the tuba section leader for the Bingham High School (Utah) Marching Band. As a junior, he was young to be a section leader but handled the job well. Here's the article that about him that will appearin the Bingham 2012 Marching Band yearbook.

Scott James:
His resume continues to grow
with a season full of success as a leader
By Bruce Smith
            As the youngest of nine children, Scott James had listened to a lot of his advice.
            This year, as the tuba section leader for the Bingham Marching Band, he got to dispense a lot of it.
            Just a junior, James was asked to become the group leader in mid-summer and now considers the advancement to be an important part of his resume.
            Sure, there was a brief bout with nerves, but he adjusted and the tubas became an invisible benefit that added to Bingham’s season-long successes.
            “He had to be an instant replacement,” said Band director Darin Graber. “He’s a good tuba player and the kids respect him. He handled the situation well, even though over half of his section was new.”
            How did he do it? Like most things, he used his brains.
            James comes from a musical family and has a high grade-point average. He was already a member of the school’s National Honor Society and has hopes of graduating with honors with a promising future.
            He spent a portion of the summer playing in various bands and marching in summer parades. He said he didn’t have a long time to think about how he was going to handle his leadership role, but dove right into it.
            “I’m going to remember Band Camp (the most),” he said. “We were able to split off into our separate sections and I had some time alone with my section. We were able to talk and get through stuff and not worry about other people.”
            James began playing the tuba in seventh grade. He had watched one of his older brothers learn the instrument and quickly recognized it was a good idea.
            “The first three kids (in our family) did choir. The last six were all involved in band,” he said. “In middle school, my parents wanted us to get involved in music - to do something other than art classes and get credit.
            “My beginning band teacher told me that it’s easier to get a scholarship for college if you play an instrument that isn’t widely played.”
            James thought the tuba’s role in this year’s marching band performance was pretty easy, although it took the group a while to learn it because there were so many new faces. Several people from last year’s squad had quit. The group had fewer numbers (eight), but morale was much higher because everyone wanted to be there.
            “When we started doing our competitions, it helped a lot,” he said. “The first month and a half, we were just rehearsing and had nowhere to perform. After that, we knew we had to work harder to beat the competition at performances.”
            Near the end of the season, they knew they were at their best. James said they felt relaxed at Disneyland, and then put on a fine show in St. George.
            That was also a highlight, but not for the reasons you would think.
            “During our last practice, me and two other junior tuba players (Garrick Poulson and Jordan Treglown) switched spots in somebody else’s dot,” he said. “It was fun figuring out how to do it. Some of the people around us were freaking out.”
            Like Graber, James said he likes to combine work and fun with the band. He expects to be a section leader again as a senior and play an even bigger role with NHS. After graduation, he plans to serve an LDS Church mission and go to college.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bingham band: 2012 season recap

This is the article recapping the Bingham High School Marching Band's 2012 season that will appear in the team's post-season yearbook.

By  Bruce Smith
            After a season of countless practice sessions in all kinds of weather, classroom sessions, football games and competitions, the Bingham Marching Band’s season came down to one day.
            It was Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. The entire group was in St. George and had already finished its show in front of the crowd at Desert Hills High School. The worst part was the waiting.
            “They didn’t announce us until last,” said band director Darin Graber. “It’s a big deal to make it to BOA (Bands of America) regionals and make it to the finals. Huge, huge, huge.”
            It was a day of celebration for Bingham. Later, while the group was walking en masse to its final show, they had their most emotional moment.
            “We were walking down the street and all the bands (who hadn’t made the finals) stood up and started clapping for us,” recalled Lisa Forsyth, the flute section leader. “It was the best moment in my while life. I had chills running down my spine that (those) people actually thought about us. It was an amazing moment.”
            “The kids felt like they were six inches off the ground,” said Graber, who felt the same way.“
            Bingham finished fifth overall at BOA, but made history by taking third place among the 5A Utah schools. Graber said Bingham hadn’t competed at BOA before because it took place on a different date than the Red Rocks Invitational (also in St. George).
            In 2012, they were pared together so many schools, including Bingham, didn’t have to make two trips.
            “It was considered the actual state championship,” Graber said. “It was big for us to beat Sky View when it counted. We also beat Mountain Crest, and destroyed Lehi.
            “These kids are a different breed. Kids outside of band don’t know what it’s all about, but it was a big deal.”
            Graber said that 12 years ago, the marching band had just 40 members and to have this much success was unthinkable. American Fork and Davis were always at the top, but Bingham set a precedent by eclipsing the other 5A schools.
            “The attitude is changing,” Graber said. “Finally, we’re getting the reputation for this school and for the students. Marching band is hard and the kids deserve a lot of credit. You have to put together a musical program, play and march. It’s a lot of work and a lot to remember.”
            The season actually started shortly after school was dismissed. In mid-June, Bingham took part in the annual South Jordan Parade and some students also represented various groups in other summer parades.
            Band Camp was a two-week event at the school that kicked off the team’s fall hopes. Under the hot sun, they began learning the music and the steps of their show. The grueling effort wasn’t for everyone, and the team had to make adjustments.
            But then the fun started. There were nine competitions, a half-dozen football games (and one performance at Rice-Eccles Stadium), fundraisers and a bus ride to Disneyland that felt almost like  it was the finishing touch and led to a lot of lasting friendships that were built on the way.
            With all due respect to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” there was a better memory built for the Bingham Marching Band, and it may lead to more soon.

About Me

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.