The Steinbrenner High School Band is planning a trip to perform at a college bowl game later this year. To get there, they’ll need hard work and determination.
They’ll also need more than $70,000.
That’s the cost to accommodate more than 90 people traveling to Memphis, Tennessee, for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, on Dec. 29.
“It is a lot of money,” admitted band director Nicole Conte. “We’ve done some smaller trips that have cost about half that, but this is a pretty big one.”
It’s so big that the band is getting creative about raising funds. They’ll host a casino night on Nov. 8 at Cheval Golf and Country Club, 4312 Cheval Blvd., in Lutz, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. On Nov. 16, they’ll have a mattress sale at the school’s gymnasium from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Current fundraising and early payments have helped the band get close to half of their goal, leaving plenty more money that needs to be raised. But from personal experience, Conte feels it’s worth it.
“We did several things like that when I was in high school band, too, and those are memories that I’ve carried with me all my life, and some of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” she said.
When Conte was going to school in Naples, her high school band performed at a Miami Dolphins game. She was excited to play in front of such a large group, and wants her band to share that kind of experience.
That doesn’t mean the entire trip will simply be a vacation for the band. There are competitive elements to the event as well. In addition to participating in the halftime show with other bands from different states, they’ll also be part of a field competition before the event. The winning band gets to perform solo as part of the pre-game ceremony.
Conte wants to win that competition, and continue the tradition of success she’s established at Steinbrenner. She’s been with the school since it opened in 2009, and has 17 years of experience leading bands. They consistently earn a rating of “superior” in their assessments, and they won their division at the Lion’s Pride band competition this year at King High School in Temple Terrace.
Three years ago, Steinbrenner also was named grand champion of that event.
To stay focused for their upcoming performance and prepare to face some tough competition, Conte is putting the band through their paces in practices and going over segments of their musical routines repeatedly to ensure their playing is sharp and their timing is right.
In her experience, that’s the only way to achieve the kind of success she wants.
“It’s practice and hard work. I think talent really has little to do with success,” she said. “It really boils down to determination and willingness to work hard to get the job done.”
Band members have displayed a willingness to work hard because of Conte’s leadership. Sam Goldstein, who plays tuba among other instruments, said the band has seen Conte’s experience in action, and knows that her decisions lead to good outcomes.
“She’s done it for 17 years, and she doesn’t have to think about anything that she does,” he said of Conte. “She tells us what to do and somehow everything works out. I look up to her as a third parent, almost.”
As a result, band members believe Conte when she says the practices and the fundraising will be worth the effort once they set foot in Tennessee for the school’s first band trip to a college bowl game.
“This is our first one,” Conte said. “I’ve never done one before, either. I’m very excited, and the kids are very excited.”
For more information about the Steinbrenner High School Band and its fundraising efforts, call Steinbrenner at (813) 792-5131, or visit SteinbrennerBand.com.
Published November 5, 2014
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