Tracy Farr
From the Mount Pleasant Tribune, photo courtesy of David Freeman

To stand on the 50 yard line of “Cowboy Stadium” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not soon forgotten, no matter HOW “Da Boys” are playing that year – just ask the members of the Mount Pleasant High School Goin’ Gold Band.

The band, under the direction of Dr. Theodus Luckett, competed in the USBands National Championships held at AT&T Stadium Nov. 10, making it to the finals and placing 9th out of 26 bands from around Texas and Louisiana.

“I knew it would be a great experience for the kids,” said Luckett, “The kids absolutely loved it. They did a good job.”

USBands, under the auspices of Youth Education in the Arts (YEA), is the largest sanctioning body for scholastic music competitions in the United States. YEA is a non-profit organization based in Allentown, Pa. Its programs allow thousands of performers to participate in pageantry events nationwide.

Usually, Texas marching bands are finished with their competition season by the middle of October unless they perform at the State competition in November. After that, the bands start getting ready for Christmas concerts, solo and ensembles, and working on new music for the spring.

Goin’ Gold Band members continued working on their marching show so it would be perfected by the time they got on the Cowboy’s field – but when they got there, they encountered a slight “hiccup” they weren’t expecting.

“When I went onto the field, something looked different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it,” said Luckett. “The kids didn’t know something was off until they started to march, and then uh-oh.”

The “something that was different” was the location of the hash marks.

Hash marks on the football field help marching band students guide themselves within the band’s formations. On high school football fields, the hash marks are 53 feet apart. But on an NFL field, the hash marks are around 18 feet apart.

“My kids were kind of unsettled [about the hash marks], but no one really said anything,” said Luckett. “After the first performance, I said, Well, I don’t know about this one. I thought, oh my goodness, let’s go ahead and pack up.”

“When we got to the awards ceremony, and they started to announce the bands that would get to [perform] in the finals, I already had it in my mind that we weren’t going to make it,” admitted Luckett. “When they announced, ‘the first band that will be performing is the Mount Pleasant band,’ the kids were extremely excited. I was excited.”

According to Luckett, the band performed much better during the finals, good enough to place 9th out of “some really good bands,” he said.

“I was very, very proud,” he added. “The kids did a really good job.”