THEY’RE READY

Members of B-CU’s marching band share how proud they are to be a part of ‘The Pride.’

The Bethune-Cookman Marching Wildcats perform at halftime on Oct. 15 in Jacksonville at the Jacksonville Jaquars’ game against the Los Angeles Rams. DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./ HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

BY GREG LEWIS
DAYTONA TIMES

It’s 8 p.m. on a recent Thursday night and the Bethune-Cookman Marching Wildcats’ daily practice is underway.

Members of B-CU’s band, nicknamed “The Pride,” march onto the field, splitting up into different sections covering the entire practice space.

In one corner of the field going over drills and notes is the trumpet section.

The 14 Karat Gold Dancers are doing stretches on the far left of the field while drum majors are huddled in the center.

Overseeing the practice is band director Donovan Wells, a position he has held since 1997.

B-CU’s band was first formed in 1930 and only consisted of 30 members. Today, the band has nearly 400 members.

Pre-performance tension
Bernaldi Destin, a senior majoring in Business Administration from Boynton Beach, is a drum major. He got his start in marching bands at Boynton Beach High School, where he was a section leader for the percussion section and was a drum major in his senior year.

There’s some tension on the Pride’s practice field as the band prepares for this Saturday’s Homecoming game.

“Tensions are a bit high on the field because if we are not giving enough in our performance, Director Wells will find any possible way to bring it out of us. Our director and staff have nothing but great intentions for us,” Destin shares.

“They only want us to perform at our greatest every time. Some people do not make the field, but it’s not the end for them. They have to push and keep grinding so that they can get a spot on the field. Nothing is ever given to you without effort and pride.”

Looking toward Classic
While the band was preparing for this Saturday’s Homecoming show, the members had their minds on the Florida Classic as well. The popular halftime show during the Orlando football game pits B-CU’s band against instate rival, the Marching 100. The Wildcats football team will take on Hampton University at 4 p.m. Saturday at Municipal Stadium.

“We are actually a little ahead of the game this year. We took the time during the summer to work on many entrances and new elements. We are looking forward to debut to the audience. The Classic blueprint will be touched up and going into the cleaning process that Monday right after Homecoming. We are looking forward to a very entertaining Classic,’’ Destin tells the Daytona Times.

‘Stay tuned’
Destin says the drum majors are working extremely hard to make sure they are bringing new material to the Classic. They are ready to take the field by storm with brand new elements, while also keeping things traditional and fresh.

“A lot of new elements this year coming from the drum majors. We are excited to show them. Stay tuned and be on the lookout.”

Destin credits the band for his disciple and outlook on the world.

“Band has really opened doors for me and has really gotten me prepared for the real world. I’ve learned a lot from this program like pride, discipline, and how to prosper through many obstacles that come my way. I love this band program and everything it has done for me,’’ he relates.

‘Calm before the storm’
Yasmine Quin’ones, a senior psychology major from Miami, is a third year member of the band. She is a part of the Sophisticated Flag Corp.

“A great halftime show is the perfect combination between the calm before the storm. Calm meaning a nice smooth tune in which the crowd will quickly be able to recognize and sing along. The storm is when we turn the performance into a big party. The pressure is always extremely high because you never know what you’re up against,’’ she tells the Times.

“The B-CU fans can expect a much cleaner, exciting and jaw-dropping show. Each year, new trends become much more popular and we have to learn how to showcase them.”

Yamil Turner, a senior from Atlanta majoring in mass communications, plays the saxophone.

Turner is a proud product of the Stephenson High School Sonic Sound Band, located in Stone Mountain. He has been playing the saxophone for 10 years.

“Being a Marching Wildcat is a wonderful experience. Being an everyday ambassador for the school, understanding that it attracts so much attention is amazing. His goal is to be the best on the field while marching, playing, dancing.

‘Like our band director says all the time, ‘It’s the effort that makes the difference and, overall, that’s what will take us far.

He concludes, “The adrenaline is very high every time I think about Homecoming and the Classic. I look forward to both every season despite the stress and pressure. The experience is one I can’t get anywhere else from the Sunday the week before to the Sunday after. It’s very thrilling.’’

Popular hangout
The parking lot area between the practice field and the school’s gym and music building is the place where students hang out and watch the band. This is the place where returning students find familiar faces. The place where freshmen students met new friends. Also, the place where the love of great music never ends.

The parking lot area at the recent Thursday night band practice was filled with about 50 fans, mostly B-CU students just stopping by to enjoy the sounds and visuals.

Social media buzz
Students were walking outside of their dorms rooms to watch the band practice. While doing so, they kept busy updating their social media accounts with pictures, videos and B-CU filters. Fans were making hashtags on Instagram under B-CU Wildcats.

Shay Payne, a sophomore from Orlando majoring in nursing, one of the B-CU students standing outside of the gate watching.

“I can’t help but to come out and watch the band practice every night. I can hear them practicing from my dorm room. I also hear the freshmen all outside supporting them. It makes me want to join in on the action,’’ she said.

Greg Lewis, a Daytona Times intern, is a Bethune-Cookman University student majoring in mass communications.

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