Marching band rolls with the changes, finishes 2020 season

Grayling High School group ends up performing at both football and soccer games this fall
The uncertainty and the changes during the 2020 fall sports season in the state – the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), due to restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, postponed the football until spring and then later reinstated the sport for fall – affected more than just coaches, athletes, and fans. In a span a few weeks, Grayling High School’s marching band went from a possible cancellation of its season to performing at both football and soccer contests.
The band started practicing during the summer, getting ready to play halftime shows at Viking Stadium during home football games. The group took precautions to be safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we returned to rehearsal, we followed what MHSAA put out for their return to play for athletes. We recorded temperatures, wore masks when not playing, kept the students socially distanced, and outside for the most part,” said Jeff Muraida, band director for Grayling High School. “We held camp the first week in August from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. The hardest part for the students was not being at LSSU like we normally do. The kids really missed that, but still worked hard for the week. It was so great that we were able to have our band camp and have some sense of normalcy for these awesome students.”
Then, on Friday, August 14, the MHSAA postponed football until the spring. 
“The band was upset when they found out the season was cancelled. When I found out soccer was still going to happen, I immediately contacted (athletic director) Nate Maury and (coach) Andy Moore about performing at soccer. They thought it was a great idea,” Muraida said.
During the football hiatus, the marching band performed during home soccer matches at Grayling High School. Muraida said “it went well.”  
“The only change was having to be distanced in the stands and wearing masks when we were not playing. The students and I had a great time helping cheer them on while in the stands. It was also great to be able to support two band students, Andrew Walsh and Cameron Ketchum, that are on the soccer team. The biggest challenge was keeping the students socially distanced,” Muraida said.
Then, on Thursday, September 3, the MHSAA reinstated fall football for an abbreviated 2020 campaign. The band opted to play at both football and soccer games after the announcement.
“They were happy. They did ask if we were still going to be playing at the soccer games. I told them that we made the commitment and we will honor that,” Muraida said.
Muraida said the biggest challenge with playing at both sports continued to be “keeping the students socially distanced in the stands.”
“They are so used to being closer to each other,” Muraida said. “But the drill we had written has them at seven and a half feet apart for most of the show. There were really no challenges with performing our show at soccer games vs. football games.  You give us a field with yard lines and we are good to go.”
The theme of this year’s GHS marching band halftime show was “Royalty.” According to Muraida, it featured the following songs: Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman (The King of Swing); Billie Jean – Michael Jackson (The King of Pop); Cobra – Percussion Feature; Proud Mary – Tina Turner (The Queen of Rock).
The marching band’s regular season is over; the band performed its final football halftime show on Friday, October 9, during the Grayling vs. Kingsley varsity game. The soccer team played its last home games during the first full week of October.
“The marching season went well,” Muraida said. “The kids did a great job with sticking to the guidelines.”
The marching band had a performance slated for Monday, October 19, in Traverse City, an opportunity to perform with other area bands.
Muraida said the marching band will perform again this year if Grayling High School hosts a postseason football contest.
“If we do have a home playoff game, we will be there,” Muraida said.
Muraida said the students have been “awesome” and the school’s administration did a “great job with keeping everyone informed and setting us up for our return to school face to face.”
“It has been different, but we are very fortunate. When set with challenges, we came together and still gave each other a great fall season with eight performances,” Muraida said.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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