The heat, humidity and rain weren’t enough to keep the Liberty County High School Panther Marching Band from rehearsing for hours during the spring and summer.
Director Paul Sohayda said his crew worked from 4-9 p.m. every day to ensure they knew every note and step for the upcoming season.
It was this attention to detail that helped the Panther Marching Band earn accolades at competitions last year.
“We went to Statesboro, Pierce County, South Effingham and Jeff Davis,” Sohayda said. “We did very well at each and our percussion placed well every place we went. We finished with high excellence or superior ranks at just about every single show in every category we did.”
Sohayda is entering his 10th year as the school’s band director and said having a well-produced show is important. He said it sometimes can take hours of work to perfect just one song for the show.
“For the 50 hours we spent over the past two weeks we did two full numbers that was roughly 25 pages of drills for three minutes worth of music … It’s a lot of time and effort put in for the entire production,” he said. “I think last year we counted up 175 hours of rehearsal time for the season, which is the 10 game performances.”
Using charts to help with choreography and band placement, Sohayda walks among his musicians, making sure everyone is on their marks. He said they are looking forward to the first game, which is against Bradwell. It will be the band’s first performance.
“We want to have as much done as we can and have it look good (for the BI game),” he said. “Jeremy (Fermin) is one of my former students … We work together very well … Yet there is a little bit of rivalry … But I am more concerned with putting something on the field that is well -produced and well-done.”
With storm clouds closing in Monday, Sohayda directed his nearly 70 musicians, most carrying equipment.
“They train like athletes,” Sohayda said. “The tubas weigh 25 pounds. The six-piece drums weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. The gear they carry is just about the same or, in some cases, weighs more than some of the gear the football players wear.”
The Panthers have a new theme this season, “Hero.”
“We will start from the realm of the superhero and then pull it back in to honoring our everyday hero such as police, EMTs, firefighters, soldiers, etc.,” Sohayda said adding it is coming together. “We have some special things we are planning for toward the end of the show.”