Wiregrass band marches into Pasco history

The Wiregrass Ranch High School made Pasco County history by bringing home the first place prize in Class 4A in the Florida Marching Band Championships, on Nov. 23.

The Marching Bulls became 4A Grand Champions at the competition, at Daytona Beach. The school also won best color guard in its class, as well.

Josh Hobbs is the school’s band director and Alexander Kopp is the band’s drum major.

Precision and coordination were key elements that helped the Wiregrass Ranch High School marching band win first place in Class 4A of the Florida Marching Band Championships. In winning the Nov. 23 competition, the band became the first of any Pasco school to bring home the award. (Courtesy of Josh Hobbs)

Both were instrumental in the marching band’s success.

“It’s all about focus,” said Kopp, a junior at Wiregrass Ranch. “That’s what we always preach to everyone.”

Being a part of the 135-member band, which includes the color guard team and musicians, requires practicing three days to four days a week.

Beyond competing at band competitions across the country, the marching band also supports the high school’s football team at games.

Competing at various events requires fundraising, which the band does through the sale of items on its website, carwashes and partnering with local restaurants.

During the holidays, band members collect donations in exchange for wrapping gifts at the Barnes & Noble bookstore.

To get to state finals, marching bands must compete at the regional level first.

If they make it to state, they compete in the semifinal round before moving to the finals.

The Marching Bulls were among the top five semifinalists, propelling them closer to a victory.

Senior Kurt Smith, the Bulls’ band captain, said the judges are meticulous. They focus on precision, quality of music and visual performances.

It was that analysis that led to the Bulls earning a banner, trophy and gold medallions.

Kopp and Smith both began their band experience during middle school.

“In middle school, I picked up guitar,” Kopp said. “I saw in eighth grade that there’s a band program at our middle school, so I jumped in there.”

Smith on the other hand started off playing the trumpet and later began practicing the French horn.

However, it was his transition into the Wiregrass Ranch High marching band that made a big impact on him, the 18-year-old recalled.

“I met so many great people in my freshman year, when I first did it,” Smith said. “I really wanted to be like them. They were great leaders.”

Now, he has had the opportunity to continue that kind of leadership.

When the team reaches the competition venue, they may have several additional hours on their hands, Smith said, and they put it to good use.

“It’s just that important to get ready for all three hours that you’re there,” he added, “so that every moment you have, you’re maximizing your potential to set yourself up for success.”

The camaraderie among band members has been the recipe for success, Hobbs said.

He added: “They’re never above helping out somebody that’s struggling. Those things have very little to do with their actual performance. Their willingness to help the program itself, by dedication, is really special.”

The marching band uses social media, posters and informational meetings to get the word out to those interested in joining.

They want to attract new members to not only perform with the band, but also join what they call “a family.”

Published December 11, 2019

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