HomeHaddonfield NewsHaddonfield’s band marching towards success once again

Haddonfield’s band marching towards success once again

Players, color guard meeting the challenge of renewed expectations

Members of Haddonfield High School’s marching band and color guard. Back row: Patrick Ainsworth, will Michael, Mark Vaughn, Sam Peel, Cameron Simms, Front row: Claudio Carusone, Claire Custer, Chloe Katz. (Photo credit: Kim Custer)

Hard work, focus, dedication and the right attitude are hallmarks of success no matter which path one walks in life. The same can be said for those who walk in ordered lines, bearing flags or carrying instruments along with heavy equipment on their backs during breaks in athletic contests.

With those goals in mind, Haddonfield Memorial High School’s marching band and color guard are enjoying a renaissance already this school year, and are looking to continue the trend as they approach competitions in the near future.

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“Energy is contagious, and negativity is contagious. Last year was a hard season, and when we started to lose competition after competition, negative attitudes started to permeate throughout the units. This affected us in a bad way,” said Haddonfield band director Chris Janney.

“I always tell my students that the pathway to happiness is to assume responsibility. This year, as the students continue to work hard, I feel their attitudes are much better than in the past two or three years. This has really helped to make a difference.”

The band has already completed four competitions this season in the Tournament of Bands circuit, and was gearing up to compete in the South Jersey regional championships at Kingsway Regional High School, which was set to take place on Oct. 21. After that, Janney and the band are planning to head to Harrisburg, Pa., to compete in the Atlantic Coast championships on Nov. 3.

During a rehearsal at Haddonfield’s football stadium on Oct. 16, drum major and senior Mark Vaughn explained the rigors and challenges of preparing to play, as well as living up to new expectations.

“We do calisthenics every rehearsal, mainly to build everybody’s overall fitness. Despite popular belief, this is quite a demanding sport. We’re marching on a field for 10 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re playing an instrument, the breath support required throughout the entire time makes things more difficult,” Vaughn said.

“We definitely have been on a roller coaster the past few seasons. This year, there are several factors contributing to our success, first of which is the band itself. Everybody’s kicking it up a notch, bringing everything they can to the table and leaving everything on the field. We’re getting a lot done, and being competitive this year has made everyone’s resolve to be better, all the more present.”

Color guard captain and senior Claire Custer echoed those sentiments, adding: “It’s definitely a big change, and we’ve all been working so hard. I’m proud to be a part of this band, and it’s just been an incredible experience. (As captain), I help them learn show work and lead them through everything that needs to be done. In color guard, you need to know how to perform, you need to know how to dance and know the routines and it’s a lot of work.”

Color guard captain and Haddonfield High senior Claire Custer concentrates in the middle of a routine (Photo credit: Brett Ainsworth)

Janney, who has served as band director for the past 10 years, recalled a time not too long ago when things had been going well, but then reflected on what changed, and what needed to change once more to bring Haddonfield back on track.

Despite having smaller numbers than usual, in 2010 the band won a Chapter One championship. Then, in 2012, Haddonfield’s first year competing in Atlantic Coast, it placed sixth out of 26 bands. However, Janney said the band suffered through a couple of years where the infrastructure needed to maintain success did not last, thanks to a high turnover rate of both staff and students.

This year, already, Janney noticed a big difference that has translated well to a turnaround.

“It’s a coordinated effort between director, staff, students, parents who are boosters and administration. Over this past year, we have acquired very strong leadership in the boosters, who have been absolutely wonderful,” Janney said. “I’ve seen a turnaround in the attitudes and work ethic of the students, and I have a strong, focused, dedicated staff, and I think all of these things contribute to the success we’re having this season.”

Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.

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