By Bill Tamburrino
Two two-hour sessions on the football field every day for two weeks — stretching, running, suicide drills (sprints of varying distances with short intervals in between), 100 yards in lunges, pushups, sit-ups.
Who directs these training sessions? Head football coach Damon Baldwin? No. The man running the drills is Matthew Lane, director of conditioning for the award-winning Ramona High School Marching Band.
“We work hard and we play hard. We have two swim nights, a movie night and an overnight during Band Camp,” said Daniel James, band teacher at Ramona High School.
Most people who saw the movie “American Pie” chuckle when they hear the term “band camp.” Anyone who sees Ramona High School’s band camp is impressed.
Band camp has four daily sessions. From 8 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. the band is on the field. From 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 3 p.m. the band is in the classroom. Band camp started on Aug. 8 and will end tomorrow.
The field time is used to practice marching, drill to get ready for the marching band’s competitive show, and conditioning. The classroom time is used for small group instruction, ensemble and large group practice with the pageantry corps and percussion group.
Lane works the band on the field and Tory Goldberg works with the color guard on pageantry.
James has help in the classroom sessions. Ken Serfass coaches the low brass, JR Guernsey coaches the high brass, Lucy Williams and Dylan Nowakowski are percussion coaches, Chelsie Jauregui is the color guard coach, and Katrina Schnorr coaches the clarinet players.
“Dr. Graeff (superintendant of Ramona’s public schools) has given us unbelievable support and sees to it that we get the help we need to run a quality program,” said James.
The coaches get stipends but they’re not quitting their day jobs because of the stipends.
The purpose of band camp is to get the band ready for three and a half months of marching band competition. The band will enter five competitions — three local competitions at Mt. Carmel High School, Scripps Ranch High School and Mira Mesa High School — and regional contests at Charter Oak High School and Chino Hills High School.
Goals of band camp are to teach the fundamentals of marching and instrumentals and to team build.
“Everything we do is team building,” said James. “Unlike sports we don’t have anybody on the bench. Everybody has to compete and contribute. We don’t have a star or a go-to guy to bail us out and win the game for us. It is a total team effort. We rely on leadership and teamwork.”
James runs his own leadership camp before band camp. This year’s leaders are drum major Jeanette DeWeerd and co-drum major Maya Whinn. Mikayla Gonzalez is the captain of the color guard. All three lead from the front.
“Band Camp sets the foundation for the seniors’ entire year,” said DeWeerd. “It also sets the tone for the non-seniors’ RHS band careers.”
The three leaders condition with the rest of the band and color guard.
James said he is pleased with the attitude of the entire band. He encourages anybody who wants to get involved to contact him ASAP.
“We have room for beginners,” he said. “Marching band is not all that we do. In the fall we also have two jazz bands. In the spring we have symphonic, winter drum line, winter color guard and two jazz bands. We have something for every skill level.”
The marching band is held to the same academic and citizenship standards as the athletic teams. Students must have a ticket to play to compete.
It takes about $600 a year to support a member of the band. However, there are no fees. The band relies on donations and fundraisers.
“Anybody who wants to write a check is always welcome,” said James hopefully.
Anyone interested in helping out financially or joining an elite group of musicians may contact James at email@example.com.