The El Campo High School band has earned a trip to area competition after getting a first division rating on Saturday night in Ricebird Stadium.

Second-year band director Rolando Cantu led the more than 100-member band on the field Saturday and watched, to his surprise, as students outperformed even their own expectations.

“To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure what we would get when they performed, and I completely expected them to learn a lesson,” Cantu said. “They surprised me, but I should have known. These kids know when it’s time to shine, I just wish they showed it more on the practice field.”

The Ricebird marching band not only competed but played host in the first UIL competition of the season. They performed in front of three judges and received a first division rating.

ECHS students worked the entire day to escort the more than 20 bands who participated in the contest to ensure they were at the right place at the right time. 

“We had a busy day, but the students once again stepped up and took their responsibilities seriously,” Cantu said. “Overall, it was a great experience, and most importantly, our kids had fun doing it.”

The regional competition on Saturday included Louise, Ganado, Wharton and Bay City. The Ricebirds performed last since they hosted the event.  

All bands had 45 minutes to warm up, set up and perform their final ensemble. Three judges scored each band on a scale of 1-3 to decide the final rating. 

“We had a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work,” Drum Major senior Madi Breland said. “It was great to see the band come together when it mattered most, and I think we earned that first division rating.”

The band’s success, Cantu said, could not have happened without a group effort and crowd support.

“Everyone did great, but we had a few students take that next step in leadership on and off the field,” Cantu said. “That on top of the support we got from the crowd was unreal. Those kids felt like Rock stars when they left that field. The community made all the difference.”

The Ricebird band benefited from homefield advantage.

“I am so happy with how many people turned up to support the band,” Superintendent Bob Callaghan said. “We are excited for what they were able to accomplish and look forward to their next competition.”

Schools that did not qualify for the area competition include Louise and Wharton.

Schools that will join ECISD in area competition include Needville, Palicios and Columbia

Cantu believes the students will use the recognition as a starting point for the rest of the year.

“I know we can do this in practice because I have seen it in them,” Cantu said. “We just have to be more consistent and I know we will continue our success.”

The next UIL area marching competition will be held on Saturday Oct. 30 at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi.

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