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Tiger Pride Band preparing for football season

With the opening of school still

over a week away, 113 Greenville High School students were already busy on campus, proving that football season and

the inevitable fever that goes along with it are just around the bend.

One aspect surrounding the football season is the actual players.

There is always the printed word about the strategic plans, challenges and key plays, as there well should be.

But, there are many other things going on in support of the football game that go unmentioned, if not unnoticed.

When those football players line up for the kickoff, and the crowds chant and cheer, there is something that drives their emotions even higher, and causes them to become louder still: marching bands.

When you hear the resounding echo of the drums, and the blaring blasts of the trumpets as they play "charge", you probably don't realize that there was every bit as much practice going into the band's performance as there is to the football squads.

Although the football team cannot yet hold organized practice sessions, the drum major, flag squads, majorettes and the marching band have been practicing music and drills all this week in band camp.

Now, in his seventh year at Greenville High School, Band Director Rick Ashcraft has been busy all week, with the help of majorette sponsor Christie Clark and Associate Band Director Richard De La Fuente.

Last week Ashcraft took several band members with him to Jacksonville State for a band camp.

And this week, hard work was seen all around the campuws of the old High School.

The different sections of the band could be found scattered to various areas of the campus on School Highland Road, in an attempt to find shade, while practicing their musical numbers for the upcoming football season.

In the gymnasium, the temperature was probably 15 degrees higher than outside, but Ashcraft, with a bachelor's degree in music education from Auburn University was found hard at work, teaching the 25 member flag squad their drills.

The drum section was working on new cadences in the cafeteria, and

thunderous roars could be heard from all over the campus.

The woodwind sections were split, with the saxophones on a covered sidewalk, and the clarinets outside the P.E. locker rooms.

On the loading dock behind the cafeteria, the brass section practiced its numbers, and the flute and piccolo sections chose a covered stairway.

The majorettes were busy practicing on their twirling routines, and trying to decide if they like black or white boots better for their uniforms.

But each little group had one thing in common: They all gave up some of their summer vacation to come back to school to prepare for the upcoming football season.

Ashcraft said progress is going well so far.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but this is a very talented group, and with school opening earlier this year (August 7), we will still have a month before the opening game," he said.

When the "Tiger Pride" band opens up its half-time show in Lee County, they will be playing "Smooth", by Carlos Santana with Rob Thomas.

This song earned Santana several Grammy awards this past spring, and has sold several million copies.

Continuing with the jazzy theme, there will also be a selection by Johnny B. Goode, and a patriotic medley as well.

With 84 instruments, both winded and percussion, the sound promises to be a good one, based on all of the hard work going on right now.

The percussion (drum) section consists of 3 snare drums, 2 tenors (sometimes referred to as "quads" or "quints"), 4 bass drums, and two sets of cymbals.

The rumble from this division always gets the crowd up and cheering, and encourages that "fighting spirit" that the Tigers are famous for on the gridiron.

Just as much behind-the-scenes work goes on for the band, majorettes and flag squads as does the football team and cheerleaders.

Some other activities that are going on right now fall under the category of fundraisers, to pay for expensive uniforms and equipment as well as supplies such as flags and banners.

The Flag squad will be holding car washes and the band will be selling candy.

The majorettes will be selling keychains, and will hold a yard sale on August 5.

Show your support and help the cause of these hard working students. It is programs like athletic and other extra curricular activity

that help to keep our youth off

the streets and out of trouble.

Another unsung hero around the field during football season is called the "Band-Aids".

The volunteers are selected from the seventh grade at the Greenville Middle School, and do all

the "heavy" work, basically the same as "roadies" for a country singer's group.

The "Band Booster" is another aspect of support for the football program.

It is these folks who sell the food in the concession stands, drive the trucks that haul the equipment, and chaperone the trips, work details, and fund raisers.

Band Boosters meet every second Tuesday night in the band room at the new high school, and are always looking for more members.