Braden River High defends its 3A state marching band championship at Tropicana Field.
Braden River High presented its performance of "Humor Me.?!" during the semifinals of the Florida Marching Band Championships Nov. 17 at Plant City High School, but there wasn't much to laugh about.
Sure, the Pirates did enough to qualify for the 3A finals later that evening at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, but their fourth-place standing after the semifinals didn't indicate they would be a threat to defend their state championship.
"I told them don't give up, never give up," said Braden River Band Director Jeramiah Bowman. "We used a quote from Jim Valvano (the former North Carolina State basketball coach who died of cancer) in our show,
"'If you think and laugh and cry, that's a full day,'" Bowman said of the Valvano quote that was used. "And they did all of those things during their finals performance. They had a full day, and they were very happy with their performance."
Braden River improved from its 88.425 score in the semifinals to a season-best 90.575. That edged Palm Beach Central, which scored 89.9 in the finals. Jupiter (89), Boca Raton (86) and Seminole Ridge (85.5) rounded out the top five.
The Braden River Marching Band is made up of 94 students who began working on "Humor Me.?!" in January.
"We pick a broad set of themes and see where it takes us," Bowman said. "We always try to make the show relevant to the kids' lives, so we used emojis to show the different movements of the show. We all text and use emojis to show emotions, but on the other side of that emoji is a real face and a real person."
Braden River senior Leah Anderson, who performs with the marching band's color guard, received the Class 3A Visual Performance Scholarship, one of three scholarships given during the state championships.
Bowman said Anderson was helped by Color Guard Director Ricardo Robinson. "He just does a great job with individual performers," Bowman said of Robinson. "Leah wants to be in the theater, and he's great at getting the students to perform."
The Pirates didn't have much time to celebration their state championship. They left for Philadelphia to participate in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Lakewood Ranch High School band did not make the finals in the 4A division, coming in ninth with a score of 80.85 after the semifinal round at Tropicana Field.