Even though it's three weeks until the start of the school year, when many students are still sleeping in and trying to ignore the back-to-school ads, members of the Pride of Cove marching band are already brushing up on basics and learning the drills for this year's show.
"There's something about band that makes you feel higher than everybody else," said Troy Tippy, 14, an incoming freshman trumpet player. "It takes a lot of hard work, but it's definitely worth it in the end."
Of around 200 students practicing drills in the parking lot next to Lea Ledger auditorium this month, between 30 and 40 are incoming freshmen, which upperclassmen and directors are trying to bring up to speed as they prepare for this year's "Les Miserables" themed show.
"It's been hard to teach so many new people," said Dianna Boyer, 17 and flute section leader. "My section is half freshmen."
Practice starts at 9 a.m. on the parking lot black top and runs for three hours, with numerous water breaks punctuating the drills. Students have sectional rehearsals indoors during the afternoon, and return to the parking lot in the evening.
Newcomers to the band started a week earlier for training on the basics of marching.
"It's a pretty large rookie class," said Evelyn Binkard, assistant band director. "We're getting larger. We're growing every year."
Boyer said that the band could "blow off" the fundamentals, but would pay for it later during shows and competitions.
"We work hard from the beginning," she said.
Teaching new students isn't even the biggest challenge of band camp.
"It's the heat," said Binkard. "While it's not as bad as last year, it's still pretty oppressive."
Several students show up to practice wearing hats with their practice uniform of a t-shirt and shorts. The sidewalk lining the parking lot where the band practices is littered with water bottles and Thermoses. Water is also provided.
Besides bringing freshmen up to speed on basic steps and learning to deal with heat, band camp is also a time to welcome and incorporate new members of the "family."
Binkard said directors and older students work to make new members comfortable with their sections and with the band as a whole.
"We have so many young people, and we work on getting them acclimated," she said. "It amazes me how hard the kids work every year."
Veteran members of the band and color guard are excited for this year's show theme, especially considering the high school is eligible to compete in state competitions this year.
"I love the show," said Logan Childers, 16, who is in his third year performing with the color guard. "It's something new and more dramatic. I think it has a lot of potential."
As a 5A school, the Copperas Cove marching band was not eligible to advance to state in last year's University Interscholastic League marching competition. In even-numbered years, 3A and 5A schools get their opportunity.
Even while sweating through the heat of mid-morning practice, Tippy said he is still excited for one part of performing.
"I'm looking forward to looking snazzy in that uniform."
Contact Audrey Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.