Sullivan, Iowa, Broken Arrow, St. Louis. It seems that no matter where the Pride of the Lake Marching ends up competing, success is in their future. The 206 member band finished their season undefeated in the entire nation in Class 2A and is currently ranked #2 in the nation in Class 2A behind Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Academy in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Sullivan, Iowa, Broken Arrow, St. Louis. It seems that no matter where the Pride of the Lake Marching ends up competing, success is in their future. The 206 member band finished their season undefeated in the entire nation in Class 2A and is currently ranked #2 in the nation in Class 2A behind Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Academy in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Director Paul Baur couldn’t help but smile when looking back on the 2019 season, says that his students worked incredibly hard to find all of their success. He says that this season represented the best awards year for the band ever. Currently, the band sits as rank 34 out of every band in the country and has made a name for themselves as a legitimate competitor, no matter the level of competition.

Junior Head Drum Major Marian Bennion has been in the midst of the band’s greatness for all three years of high school thus far. Of course, she intends to continue on and finish strong in her senior year. All three years, Bennion has been a part of highly successful shows, starting with “Tickled Pink”. She says that, ever since that show, the growth of the band has been continuous.

She says that, in her freshman year, getting to St. Louis finals was something that none of them expected and was fully appreciated by the entire band. The show was meant to be fun. In her sophomore year, she sensed that the expectations were ramping up. With their show “Red Hot”, she says that the mood had shifted and they knew they were performing something special. Now, in her third year as a junior, the success the band has seen has only heightened as they march through their most awarded season even with the show “Transformation”.

On the other end, Freshman tuba player Curtis Nicklas has been thrust into this high-performing atmosphere. In the midst of a successful streak, Nicklas says he didn’t feel much pressure. He says that the band was very welcoming from the start. Though he says the atmosphere of the band is always serious about their craft, the members have always just enjoyed the work that they do.

“No one is super uptight about anything. It’s definitely a family, and having that is nice when you’re being introduced into it,” Nicklas said.

Every morning during the heat of the season, the band practices from 6:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. On Thursdays, the band adds an addition night practice from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. On top of that, the band occasionally throws in a Saturday practice from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This is on top of classes and possible jobs the students may be working. However, Bennion says that it’s all just part of the love for the music and the shows.

“People think it’s crazy how much we rehearse, and sometimes it can be,” Bennion said. “But in order to play at this level, we have to. It’s a huge competition. Without the work we put in, we wouldn’t be ranked this highly in the nation.”

With the season over, Nicklas says he’s enjoying waking up at 7:00 a.m.

Both Bennion and Nicklas will be continuing on with the band next season and can’t wait to see what show Baur and the other band leaders put together. As a drum major and senior leader of the band next season, Bennion says that she wants to always make sure new members are getting in the practice to perform at a high level, while also creating a welcoming atmosphere to make sure everyone is enjoying the art. Nicklas, however, is looking to continue pushing himself to be an integral part of the already expansive Pride of the Lake.

Baur says that, looking towards next year’s show, there is still much to be decided. He says the directing members of the band started work on the next show at the start of October. With the 2019 season representing a culmination of color themes from eight years prior, Baur says that this upcoming show may seem like a fresh step forward.

Of course, the band will be losing senior members into next year and Baur says this is when they have to realign with the strengths the band still processes and center next year’s show accordingly. No matter what, he is confident that the success they’ve seen thus far will continue.

“With these kids, alongside this community, the heights to obtain are incredible,” Baur said. “It’s a special place to teach with a community that digs it. These students take pride in this competition.”