Greer High School Band Director Jeff Norman says the school's talented marching band, with 21 seniors, is ready for the Upper State 3A Championships Saturday at Byrnes High School. Greer plays at 4:45 p.m.
“There’s no hype this year. We’re just going out there and take care of business,” Norman said. “Going into the Upper State we feel confident.”
Nineteen bands will perform for nine positions to qualify for the state championships Oct. 27 at Batesville-Leesville. The draw has Blue Ridge at 4:30 p.m., Greer at 4:45 and Union County at 5 o’clock. They will be the last three bands to perform before the awards presentation at 5:30 p.m.
“This year we have twenty-one (21) seniors. They have steadily gotten better every year. The musicality of this program is hard, the toughest we have had,” Norman said. “The music these kids are putting on the field is pretty fantastic.”
Norman said his staff knew they were going to hit some bumps along the way last year. “We had a young team and we were preparing them for this year. Having a veteran band, they’ve been there and done that. I can look in their eyes and tell if they are ready or not. It’s been a fun-filled year just to watch … we have so many leaders.”
The past three competitions have been successful with the percussion sweeping first place. “This is the seventh straight season percussion is unbeaten. That can be attributed to the team and their coaches,” Norman said.
Matthew Gill is assistant band director. “He has done a bang up job for his second year with us.” Norman said.
Percussion instructors are Sam Studley and Allison Bryan with Zach McLean joining the team this season. “I am blessed to have these two guys and the coaching staff,” Norman said.
The color guard instructors are Jessica Easler and Elizabeth Stephens. There are 31 members of the color guard, captained by Lauren Saffy, who was named the Greer High School Student-Athlete of the Week. She has been a color caption since she was a sophomore.
“There's a lot going on with that many people in a big area. There’s no place to hide if you’re in the color guard,” Norman said. “It can be tough enough on one instructor. Two have worked out well for us.”
Norman will use Friday as the students’ day off from school to practice from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Dooley Field. “We have great facilities but the one thing we don’t have here is a place to get up high to see the band. At Dooley Field we will look from above and see what we need to adjust.”
The program has changed every week, and not all the adjustments have been minor. “This program, now, is nothing like what we started with,” Norman said. “These kids have been champions in my eyes. They have handled the changes, the stress and competitions well.”
Chemistry, Norman said, has been a factor in the camaraderie with this year’s team. “The unique thing about us is we all enjoy being around one another.”
The preseason, as Norman calls the competitions leading to the Upper State championships, are behind the band. “We try to downplay competition. We tell them the only difference between our practice and the competition is the uniform,” Norman said.
Coming Friday: Capsule of Greer’s competitive performances.