And the Stars Guided Them to Victory
The Cal Hi Entertainment Unit (EU) has been working behind the scenes for all of the summer break even with the obvious scenario everyone has been going through. Over the course of several months, the group was able to learn an entire new field show entitled, “And the Stars Will Guide You Home”, and have performed it many times for Cal’s home football games. The EU has been putting the hours, many, many hours, perfecting every count of their show from start to finish not just for football games, but to perform it in a competitive manner and go up against other bands of California.
On Saturday, October 23, the Cal Hi EU did just that, for the first time since the program was put at a standstill due to COVID. It was also the first time the group performed competitively under the direction of Mr. Hernandez after Mr. Nordquist retired.
The California State Band Championships (CSBC) held a competition right here on the Cal Hi campus and was co-hosted by Cal and Santa Fe. Bands from all over gathered to play their best for a set of judges, get feedback, and a score for their performance. Overall Cal placed 1st place in their division of 6A and overall placed 3rd with a score of 80.650 which was just 1.15 points from 1st. Cal also received the trophy for high general effect for the show which means they did better than all the other schools, musically. In an interview, Mr. Hernandez wanted to comment that, “All in all it was a pretty accurate read; ultimately what I tell you guys, the students, at the end of the day, the number on the page is just a number I was more proud of the performance”. For being it Cal’s first time out on a competitive field a score that high is not bad at all, but as it is only their first time the numbers don’t matter as much…yet.
Thoughts on 80.650
Mr. Hernandez wasn’t the only one stoked about the performance on Saturday; many members in the band thought it was a really good representation of what they could put out there. Band time-keeper Victoria Chavez-Gonzalez shared, “I was so surprised and I was so happy that we scored what we did; it was way better than I’d thought we’d do.” Although that may seem harsh, a lot of EU members did not think they would receive that high of a score but they were proven very wrong.
“I’ve waited all of quarantine for this moment”.
Those members had their doubts but they were also filled with the excitement and anxiety for it being the first time competing in a long while, and for some, the very first time competing. Drumline section leader Ashton Keehmer expressed his feelings, “I missed just seeing the bands on the field. I remember Crescenta was on and I was just so excited to see Crescenta throw down and do their thing. It was just kind of cool to see that energy where everyone just wanted to do their best. I missed it.” Trombone Section Leader Diego Vogel added, “It felt good to be back. It felt like a rush, if that kind of makes sense; I was excited for it.” Hernandez wanted to add that after the COVID experience his mindset had changed about competitions, “my approach to competition days used to be really just drilling, you have to be excellent, you have to be perfect, you have to be the best that you can be. Really the big thing for me at this first show was have fun, enjoy the moment, enjoy that we get to do this again, enjoy performing out there with your friends and just have a good time.” And that they did. The band that day definitely gave an amazing performance that was both enjoyable to watch and enjoyable to perform. The utter happiness and glee in the air after walking off the field is something that cannot be described in words but it was simply astonishing.
Just like Cal, other schools have also waited a long time to compete again and they did not hold back. Assistant Drum Major Ethan Gaw said, “Obviously two other schools were better than us and as for the others it isn’t really fair to compare us to them. Mayfair is a high scoring school but they didn’t really do that on Saturday. I hope to see them get there but I also don’t because I want to win.” EU members enjoyed the other schools’ performances are very excited to have a chance to make it to CSBC Finals. Gonzalez added “They were honestly really good coming out of quarantine. Everyone did so well. I really do see Cal Hi at finals.” Vogel making a vital point that, “If we work towards it then maybe”. Hernandez adds to that with, “We’re on the right track. We’re right up there at the top of the pack; we have the opportunity to really make some noise this year. The vehicle is set up to be successful we just need to make sure that we’re maximizing rehearsal time perfect it as much as possible” The future for the EU is bright. All that needs to happen for it to make it to finals is to push, push, and push for this last month or so for that sweet victory.
Mr. Hernandez’s first competition with the EU undoubtedly went off extraordinarily well. The kids loved it, he loved it, the crowd loved it. “That whole day I was just focused on enjoying being back, enjoying doing this with you guys, and just enjoying the beginning of a legacy in the Entertainment Unit.” Hernandez adds how he really loved being there with his kids on Saturday but also wanted to add how he is bringing in a newish era whilst till sticking to some traditions of the band.
“We’re in a good position to continue the tradition of being a really strong music program, especially in marching band; while its never about the trophies I think we do have a good shot over the next few years here building a program that is highly competitive and that can win its class or can win the overall championship at the end of the season but I felt good, you guys threw down, you did what you had to do.”
Hernandez, without a doubt, was extremely proud of the EU on this first competition. The members also acknowledged each and everyone’s sacrifices and hard work that they put into their program. It only gets better better from here for the Entertainment Unit so good luck at their future performances.