BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — Local high school football teams are not the only ones preparing for the upcoming season.

Marching bands are getting ready as well.

While the football teams and cheerleaders are at all of the football games, they are not the only ones. The bands are there as well and are excited to be there and support their schools.

Bands spend hours memorizing their music, the field show, learning how to march, and the color guard members learn and memorize their routines. Football games are exciting for the bands because they get to show off everything that they have been working on in practice. They prepare new field shows and music each year, and getting to perform those shows means a lot to the bands.

With the upcoming Beaver-Graham football game on August 25, 2023, the Beaver and G-Men marching bands are ready to perform at one of the busiest games of the season. The Battle of the Bluefields means a lot to the community and the football teams, but what does the game mean to the band?

It’s really exciting for the bands. The students put in many hours of work to create their field shows; Learning proper marching technique, developing playing ability, working on memorization. It’s a great experience to perform in front of thousands of people, and the bands add so much to the Friday night football environment.

Nick Hinkle | Bluefield High School Band Director

I think this game means a lot to the whole community. It’s more than a  football game and it’s more than a cross-state rivalry. It’s part of who we are, and, who we want to be.

Dr. Carl Hess | Graham High School Band Director

Football games are an exciting time for students, staff and community members. The high energy atmosphere is hard to match, especially with games as large as Beaver-Graham. Thousands of people gather to watch the Battle of the Bluefields, and the excitement is felt by everyone, including the players, cheerleaders, and band members.

The community looks forward to seeing the football teams play in one of the largest games of the season. Beaver-Graham is a very special game to members of the community, as the atmosphere of the stadium is full of energy. While the band members also look forward to watching the game between the rival schools, they are also looking forward to something else.

They look forward to the pregame pep rallies, debuting their new field show for the first time to an audience, seeing the opposing bands field show, debuting new sideline music, and drum cadences. This game is also an atmosphere like no other that we perform at. To have such a large community event, it lets the bands be on be on full display cheering on our schools. 

Nick Hinkle | Bluefield High School Band Director

We love to entertain the crowd and cheer on our team. I would venture to say that there aren’t many places in the world like Mitchell Stadium for Graham-Beaver. The fans, the bands, the atmosphere – all of it. I imagine it’s pretty unique.

Dr. Carl Hess | Graham High School Band Director

However special the Beaver-Graham football game is to the community, that does not mean that the bands do not also enjoy going to all of the games that are scheduled for the season. The bands are not just at all home games, but they also travel to the away games too. Hours of practice, hard work, and dedication all come together for when the bands perform their music and shows, whether they are at home games, away games, or at competitions.

My students love attending football games. We travel with the football team all across the state to all away games, playoff games, and state title games. The band helps make every game feel like a home game and we love sharing that experience with our team and our fans. The students really get to know each other well because of all of the shared experiences so they have such a community between band, football, cheerleading. It’s one of the things students remember the most after their high school years.

Nick Hinkle | Bluefield High School Band Director

We love to support our football team. The band has a great relationship with our players, staff, coaches, and fans, and we have mutual respect and admiration for each other. Win or lose we hope to be our teams biggest supporters – a lesson I hope my students take with them after high school.

Dr. Carl Hess | Graham High School Band Director

Like the football players and cheerleaders, the bands are more than just a team. After spending so much time together, getting to know one another, and traveling to away games and competitions, band members start to feel less like strangers and more like family.

Even after graduating, band members often look back fondly on their memories of being in band. For some former band members, being in band was one of the best parts of high school, and to some, the games and competitions were their favorite parts of it. The atmosphere of being on the field about to perform in front of so many people and to show what they have achieved with hours of hard work is both nerve wracking and exciting, and band members would not trade it for anything.

Students in band go to summer practices just like all school teams do. By the time school starts, band students have been at school for five weeks already. They work for six hours a day, five days a week learning and developing a unique halftime show each year. Their shows are really important to the students as they perform their show at competitions most weekends throughout the fall. In West Virginia, we compete in a marching competition series known as the Governors Cup, and have won multiple grand champion awards over the years. They love to perform on Friday nights, then turn around and compete on Saturdays. For band students it’s the event they look forward to the most each school year.

Nick Hinkle | Bluefield High School Band Director

About a month before school starts I typically meet with the band’s leadership regularly and work out any issues that might hinder the start of our season. We spend hours lining the field so we can learn our drill. Music is copied, passed out, and (hopefully!) practiced. Three weeks before school starts we have a week long band camp where we learn the music and drill for our performances. After camp, we rehearse three days a week to continue working on and learning our drill and music. All and all we will have put in around 200 hours of practice time before we get to Graham-Beaver.

Dr. Carl Hess | Graham High School Band Director

Football games and competitions are essential for the bands, because without them the bands would not have an opportunity to perform their field shows. While bands do have parades and concerts, it is the competitions and football games where they get to show of their sideline music and field performances.

Whether you call it Beaver-Graham or Graham-Beaver this rivalry game is exciting for everyone, and like the football teams, the bands are ready to perform.