By: Brad Cole
The North Henderson band has been a dominant program ever since being re-established in 2008. The Knights have won multiple trophies in concert band, colorguard and marching band and traveled across the United States to be in the most prestigious events in the competitive arts world. Most of that success came when current directors Steve Sigmon and Ryan Summers arrived on the scene.
If you have ever taken a quick peek in their band room where all the magic is made, you’ll see their triumph in trophies, too many to count. The hardware stretches around the room’s top shelfs and the more recent trophies sit where room is found. Although trophies may be a great way to show your success, the band has something else to show for their utter dominance: very successful alumni. And one in particular, Tommy Shoemaker, made a splash in the DCI ranks this summer, which is a non-profit governing body for junior drum bugle corps.
Shoemaker, a 2015 North graduate, traveled across 22 states, played 38 shows and covered roughly 15,000 miles playing for thousands of different Americans with the Caverials, who are a big name in the DCI program. Playing with this group is no easy task. “One wrong move and you’re out. There’s hundreds of other people willing to take your spot that will pay money to fly out and start at any time”, Shoemaker said. The sophomore in college who attends Western Carolina worked his way through the long 12 hour days during the hot summer season starting this past May. His band played very well throughout the season, and finished 5th in the DCI world championships out of the twelve bands that made finals. Near thirty-three bands started off in the competition. The championships were held this past weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Shoemaker, who plays the mellophone, didn’t start out as a superior marcher. He didn’t even march in his Freshman year in high school, but quickly fell in love with the activity. With that being said, he had doubts. At some points Shoemaker thought “no way I could ever do this at a bigger stage.” He kept on working and with the help of Sigmon and Summers, he took his skill to a whole other level, and learned a few things along the way from his mentors. “They gave me life lessons that I use in the real world. They’ve passed done everything they know. They encouraged me as I got better”, Shoemaker said. Summer and Sigmon both have been involved with the DCI organization, also, so they definitely knew what was required to be successful in DCI.
Shoemaker plans to march at Western Carolina University this year and get his degree in music education to follow his teachers, teach high school music and teach DCI on the side.
2013 North Alumni Josh Singleton also participated in DCI this summer with the Boston Crusaders, who finished 12th. The band has also sent multiple players to a variety of different colleges around the United States to play under scholarships.
Summers and Sigmon’s work has not only put the program on the map, but changed lives forever, and that is no easy undertaking. They’ve spent countless hours working on shows, helping students on their music, and everything in between. The two have truly made making a band program successful consistently their life’s work, and that should never go unnoticed.