The Turlock Christian Marching Eagles are celebrating the program’s most successful season ever, cementing their status as one of the area’s best bands after an undefeated run this fall.
The marching band competed in four band reviews this year and placed first in each, facing 22 bands from much larger schools over the course of the 2018 season. Band director Richey Winkler started TC’s marching program six years ago, and while the school has always performed well each season, a perfect blend of talent and experience this year produced extraordinary results.
“The students put in an extraordinary amount of hard work, and just like a sport they had to put in a lot of time to be successful. It just really paid off this year,” Winkler said. “Some of the students in the band have had me as their band director since they were sixth graders…now they have experience and are the leaders in the band.”
The Marching Eagles participated in four band reviews this year, where the school went up against campuses with 10 times their own enrollment. Band reviews are hosted around the country as a way for student marching bands to compete. Bands march in a parade during the competition, and are judged by a panel who give out marks for the best music, showmanship and marching ability.
Throughout the four band reviews that they participated in, the Marching Eagles defeated a total of 22 schools. Some of those included Hayward High School (enrollment of 1,573), Ceres High School (1,773) and Antioch High School (2,335). Turlock Christian’s high school and junior high enrollment combined is about 200, Winkler said.
“If you look at the ratio of students to the size of each band, it really shows the importance of music and the fine arts at Turlock Christian Schools, and it shows the hard work that our students put in and their dedication to excellence,” he said.
Those who march in the band range from 7th to 12th grade, Winkler said, and the students practice every Monday for three hours after school. This allows students to participate in other after-school activities during the remainder of the week. In August, the students came to school early for band camp week, where they put in 20 hours of practice before the season had even started.
“There’s a lot of work at the individual level, too, like learning music and memorizing the march,” Winkler said. “They’re constantly putting in that time to improve and keep working on doing well.”
In addition to band reviews, the Marching Eagles also continuously impress at home sporting events for Turlock Christian, like football and basketball games. Members of the band have also achieved individual success, like Rosie Rojas, who placed first and second as a Military Drum Major at two band reviews.
Moving forward, the Marching Eagles are looking ahead to their next big performance: The Downtown Turlock Christmas Parade on Dec. 7. Until then, the band is reveling in their success.
“I am extremely proud of the hard work all the students continue to put in and of them wanting to do their best,” Winkler said. “We strive to do our best and make sure it’s the best we can do no matter who’s watching.”