Writer Tom Scanlon
Photography by Diana Thompson and Brett Lackey

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]oor Brett Lackey. It was so much easier for him back in the early days of the marching band. This, by the way, is a four-kid band parent. When his oldest, Danielle, joined the BC band in 2006, she was one of just 33 band members, up from 20 when the band started in 2004.

“The pit consisted of one xylophone,” Lackey remembers, with a mix of whimsy and disbelief. “I could just load the stuff in the back of my truck.”

Ten years later, the BC band is 140 members strong — and, yes, quite strong. The big news around Anthem this fall: Boulder Creek is going to a bowl!

Not the football team, the band.

As another band dad, Eric Olson, puts it, “The Boulder Creek band got invited to play in the Holiday Bowl game and parade this year. It is a pretty big college football game over the holiday break in San Diego, and a big honor to be invited.”

He is rightfully proud of his son, Everett, and his bandmates, who made the Super State Finals last year, earning recognition as one of the top 10 bands in the state.

So, the good news is that band director James “Mr. O” O’Halloran is leading the Boulder Creek Jaguar Pride bands to some stunning heights. The not-really-that-bad news: Man, it’s a lot more work for everyone!

Olson notes that the band’s doubling in size in recent years has moved it from Division II up to Division I, the top tier in the state.

“That type of growth requires a big jump in coordination and maturity of the individual band members,” he says. “Competing at that level also requires a more demanding music selection and a physical show with increased marching demands and artistry. In the six years we have been involved, we can certainly see the improvement.”

It’s becoming more of a logistical and physical challenge for the band boosters, made up mostly of parents like Lackey, president of the boosters. Remember how Lackey talked about fitting band equipment in the back of his pickup truck? For the trip to San Diego before the December 27 Holiday Bowl, the band boosters will be renting two of the biggest trucks U-Haul has available.

“Mr. O. was saying it’s one of the biggest nightmares he’s had to go through in terms of logistics,” says Lackey.

Without the band boosters, he’d have far more headaches.

“Mr. O. has to focus on getting the show ready,” Lackey notes. “We show up at practice every night, fill up water jugs with water and ice. We went through the sizing of all the uniforms.” The boosters take care of dozens of other things — all the grunt work that comes with putting on a glamorous show.

Lackey’s youngest son, Caden, is a junior who plays baritone in the band. Before him in the BC band marched siblings Brendan, Lindsey and the aforementioned Danielle, who also played clarinet in the Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University marching bands.

In addition to being a family affair for the Lackeys, each year’s band forms its own family unit. The bonding starts in the summer, with a team-building week.

“It is a humongous family forum,” Lackey says. “They have so much camaraderie, such a good time. They start out the year with band camp, which has been in Prescott. By the time they start school, they have 140 friends. It’s one big family.”

Olson agrees fully. His son, Everett, follows older sister, Kaitlin, who played at BC and now is in the NAU marching band.

This band dad sees band as a team sport, “but its takes the meaning of team to a much higher level. Everyone in the band is on the starting team. There is no second string and there is no bench. Each individual, whether a new freshman or a senior, has a unique role in the performance, and the entire band is counting on each other — no musical pun intended! As a result, the kids walk away with a firm understanding of teamwork and the enjoyment of being part of what can truly be referred to as a band family.”

What was the vibe of the BC band/family when news came down about the Holiday Bowl?

“We were all excited to be able to go to California,” says Everett Olson, “since we haven’t gone on a big trip like this before. We were also proud to be chosen to go based on our performance from last season.”

Everett is a senior, and was asked to step up this year.

“I was given the opportunity to lead the trumpet section, which helped me learn more about how to lead and inspire my other colleagues,” he says.

The kids in the band put in a huge commitment, with five hours of class time per week, 10-15 hours of group practice and the expectation they’ll be playing on their own to give the school their best. The marching band is a great mental and physical challenge, with students not only having to memorize notes, but the steps and moves that are choreographed for each one.

“Playing the music is the most fun part about being in the band,” says Everett. “The hardest part is the goal to try to achieve perfection in both our music and marching.”

The march to perfection continues through the football season, all the way to San Diego.


Frequently asked questions via bouldercreekbandboosters.com:

Can I do band and play sports?
Yes! We are usually able to work schedules around each other and we have had many band students participate in various sports activities and teams, even at the varsity level.

What bands are there?
We currently have five band classes during the day: wind ensemble, symphonic band, concert band brass, concert band woodwinds and percussion ensemble. We do marching band in the fall (until November) and concert band in the winter and spring months. We also offer several student-led ensembles that meet outside of the regular school day.

Can I audition to make a higher band?
Yes. Audition dates and times will be announced in March. You may then set up a time to come over and audition. Auditions are not required.

Do all band students march?
Yes. All band students are in the marching band that rehearses Monday and Thursday evenings, as well as some Saturdays. (We’ll send you a schedule!) This is the only high school program at BC in which you are a guaranteed varsity member as a freshman.

What does band camp cost?
The cost for band camp is rolled into the fair share payments made by all band members of the program.

What is fair share?
In lieu of constant fundraising, the BC band parents chose, years ago, to pay a “fair share” fee in order to help fund band activities. These funds are used to pay staff fees that are not covered by the school district, writing/design fees, equipment costs, travel costs for transporting instruments and equipment to games and festivals, entry fees that are not covered by the school district and awards. If this is a hardship for anyone, please speak to Mr. O’Halloran. It is our intention to never leave anyone out of this great activity due to financial reasons.