Valencia High School students Morgan Abarca and Elli Lyznick spent hours practicing their routines for the day when they would join their marching band at Valencia and compete against teams across Los Angeles County.
After a year of practicing at home, online via Zoom and occasionally during voluntary summer sessions with some of their bandmates and director, the time had come for the girls to compete again.
High school marching bands and color guards from the Santa Clarita Valley and across Los Angeles County filled Valencia High’s Dr. Paul A. Priesz Stadium with thunderous drums, blaring trumpets and much more for the return of the ninth annual Pride of the Vikings Field Tournament on Saturday.
“We haven’t had competition in a long time, and it feels like a long time,” said Abarca, a head drum major. “We’re excited. We had to change some things to follow health protocols, but there wasn’t much difference. We treated our practices like normal band camp, like a normal season to make it seem as normal as possible.”
Lzynick, assistant drum major, added that this year would feature two classes that had never marched in a show before. As seniors, she and Abarca tried to encourage their peers for their performances.
Fifteen high schools participated in the tournament — including the host, Valencia High School, Castaic High, Canyon High, Golden Valley High, West Ranch High, Saugus High and Hart High.
Both Abarca and Lyznick said their families and friends showed up to see their performance, just like the hundreds of other families who came to support their loved ones.
At the end of the tournament, judges awarded West Ranch High sweepstakes in auxiliary, percussion and visual performance. Hart High took home sweepstakes in general excellence, music performance and band, said Terry Collier, booster president for Valencia High’s band and color guard.
“The main reason for competing is to give us a goal,” said Kelvin Flores, director of instrumental music at Valencia High School. “If we just start from July and have no goal in sight, there’s less motivation to push ourselves. It’s also a lot harder to teach skills like leadership, determination, work ethic and things like that — if there’s no goal in mind.”
Music is academically rigorous, Flores added, as there are many aspects that a student must follow as an individual and as a team.
Competition provides an evaluation on how each school is doing and motivates students to work harder. Flores also took the time to thank those who helped fund the tournament such as donors, boosters and the William S. Hart Union High School District because the tournament means a lot to students.
“We are the wind beneath your wings,” Collier jokingly said.
Collier added they hope to advocate for music programs. She wishes for more children to participate in music programs throughout all grade levels and experience the joy of music.
Flores added band and music is a vehicle to teach life lessons.
“Not all of our students will go on to become musicians, but we will teach them the skills; so whatever they choose to do, they can apply those lessons and be successful.”
Flores was overjoyed with Saturday’s event, which reflected in the sound of students’ music and the stands with hundreds of families watching their musicians.
“This year, in particular, everybody is a winner as long as they step on the field because they’ve had to jump through so many hurdles to even get to this point,” Flores said. “We’re happy to cheer and host all these fantastic groups in this tournament in a celebration of music.”