In this excerpt from the rereleased young-adult romance novel, Julia McCoy—a rookie upperclassman in the drumline—has a startling encounter during her first marching competition.
Joining the remainder of my section and the rest of the band, we collectively march and gather at the back of the field. I feel weird stepping out on a different field. The stands, the central logo, and the general placement of everything seem out of whack. Suddenly, a foreign crowd looks out at us. When I realize that everyone watching is here to support us, I begin to get excited about our performance.
An intense Harris keeps time with notes on his snare, and we walk out onto the field. The instant reaction from the crowd gives me goosebumps—how could I have missed a moment of this?
I try not to think about how we are going to adjust the entire show with Denny not being with us, but suddenly, calmness comes over me. Stan sends a supportive wink, and I realize that I have no real reason to worry. We’ve practiced so much that I know our instincts will kick in. Over the loudspeaker, an announcer’s voice lists the instructors and drum majors.
“Dress, center, dress!” Kimberly’s voice calls out.
We all adjust accordingly, and the opening set sharpens into focus.
The announcer’s booming voice asks, “Drum major, is your band ready to take the field for competition?”
We must be because the next thing I know, the crowd is clapping for the drum major’s salute, and the show has begun! The performance, to me, is a blur. Well, the performance is blurry up until a particular point.
I hit a judge!
Like, seriously, I nail him.
The event happens right after the drum solo. To me, the moment stretches into slow motion. Kimberly has brought down her hands for the downbeat of the next song, and the Battery must haul ass to the back. As we make the turn to go backfield, starting with 5th bass and ending with me—the last quint—I see, to my horror (far too late), a judge right behind me. Quincy and I (and all our momentum) slam into the poor judge.
He goes down.
We were so close to the front of the field that I don’t think anyone in the stands missed what happened. Seriously, I couldn’t have timed my collision any better if I had a spotlight pointed on me.
Everyone in the stands gasps. Knowing I will never catch up if I pause for even a single second, I break my drumline grimace, quickly mouth the words, “I’m sorry,” and march as if my life depended on it to catch up with everyone. I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry. In a single moment, I have broken my promise to Wade, probably managed to get us disqualified, and definitely made sure The Mick saw that I was performing.
Somehow, I complete the remainder of the show. The crowd is giving us a standing ovation by the time we finish the closer. I want to be wrapped up in the joy of the performance, but that is incredibly difficult to do, knowing I was about to have my precious Quincy stripped from me, fail in Advanced Percussion, and probably be sued by the poor judge.
Wait a minute, how is the judge? In the shock and horror of what I had done, I hadn’t seen what happened after I knocked him down. I hope he got up and out of the way after I sent him sprawling. After all, getting knocked over by tenors, then crushed by sousaphones, would be a terrible way to die.
Committed to our performance, no one talks until we are off the pitch, and then all pandemonium breaks out.
“That was so amazing!”
“I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life!”
“You’re a legend.”
Even Harris is all smiles.
Wait, what?! I was actually getting props for knocking over a judge? Had I missed something?
For anyone who might have missed my moment of shame (glory?), Stan retells my story, “So, she’s doing the backward spin, and the guy’s face is like, ‘Aaahhh!’ and she’s all, ‘Oh crap,’ and then he fell down. Dude, it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Denny finally comes hobbling over to join us. Seeing my face, he laughs heartily before explaining himself, “We never told you, did we?”
“Told me what?”
“That it’s completely okay if you hit a judge on the field. Basically, they are supposed to be out of your way and non-existent. So don’t worry, it’s not like points off or anything.”
“Really? Well, someone could’ve told me that!”
“We didn’t think to tell you because the situation rarely happens.” Noticing I am still distraught, Denny says, “In case it happens again, all you have to do is yell, ‘Drill!’ and the word usually gets the job done.”
Finally understanding that what I’ve done will surround me in legend, I start to giggle and say, “It was kind of funny, wasn’t it?”
“From the reaction in the stands, I’d have to agree,” Denny says. “I can’t wait to see what happened on video or listen to his commentary file.”
Note from the Editor
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of its original publication, the completely updated rerelease of “Confessions of a Teenage Band Geek” combines new scenes, revamped characters, and more drama while keeping the amusing personalities and exciting plot that readers have known and loved. Published by Muse Media, LLC, creator of Halftime Magazine, “Confessions of a Teenage Band Geek” can be purchased as a paperback or e-book on Amazon.com.