On Saturday, Nov. 17, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s marching band, the Eagle Regiment, competed at the 2018 Florida Marching Band Championship at the Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Eagle Regiment brought home the 5A state championship for the second year in a row.
Scoring a 92.95, the victory was secured by a close margin of 1.95 points against Timber Creek High School from Orlando, Florida, who scored 91.10 points.
“When we found out we won, it was such a relieving moment,” junior Briana Eyzaguirre said. “We have a really strict work etiquette which allows us to be very productive, and we really worked hard for our title this year… which proves that if you put in enough hard work into something you’re dedicated in, there are always good results.”
They competed in class 5A, the largest class based on band sizes of over 101 wind and percussion players in the FMBC circuit. Eighty-nine schools competed at FMBC with only 11 competing in the 5A class.
“This year was different because we had all eyes on us,” junior Chloe Espey said. “Being from Douglas, we had tremendous support from everyone there. For the first time, our rivals felt like friends.”
This year was very emotional for the Eagle Regiment. Following the events of Feb. 14, they performed and completed without two valuable members – Alex Schachter and Gina Montalto.
“What was different is that the people who passed away last year weren’t here to perform with us. A lot of people dedicated their performance to Alex and Gina, also in honor to Heather Quinn, who passed recently due to cancer, and wrote their names on their wrist,” Eyzaguirre said.
The Eagle Regiment was judged on music, visual and general effects. The music category consists of the sound and composition chosen. The visual category incorporates the shapes and designs each band executes throughout their performance. General effects refers to the wow factor given off throughout the performance. Each component contributes to the final score, which is a summation of the points accumulated in the three main categories out of a possible 100 points.
To most Eagle Regiment members, band is much more than a simple extracurricular activity.
“Band is a break from school; it’s a break from it all,” junior Alec Ferraz-Esper said. “All the kids there know each other, are comfortable with each other, they’re all friends.”
The Eagle Regiment worked long hours perfecting their performance for the competition. They practiced every Tuesday and Thursday for 4 hours, in addition to weekend practices, rehearsals and local competitions. Competition days can be as long as 16 hours.
“Although band is a lot of work, I wouldn’t trade it for all the free time in the world. Our program is huge but each member brings something different to the group,” Espey said. “Through all the long Saturday practices and 16-hour competition days… all of our ups and downs are faced together.”
The band’s biggest rival, Park Vista High School, did not compete against them at FMBC because they marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 22 in New York City instead.
“They’re our big rival, and last year we didn’t expect to win. But, all the work we did paid off – in competitions our score would get inch closer and closer to theirs, until the moment at states when we got 91.7 and Park Vista got 91.35,” Eyzaguirre said.
The following day, Sunday, Nov. 18, the Eagle Regiment celebrated their victory by enjoying a day at the Busch Gardens amusement park in Tampa, Florida. They returned to MSD later that night and were greeted by friends, family and faculty, congratulating them on their win,
On Tuesday, Nov. 2, a celebratory ceremony was held in the courtyard at MSD congratulating them on their achievement. The entire Eagle Regiment dressed out in their uniforms and ran through the inflatable eagle used for the football team.
Principal Ty Thompson gave a speech praising the band and recognizing band director, Alex Kaminsky for his hard work and dedication to the Eagle Regiment program.
This story was originally published in the January 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.