Hazen marching band is back after more than 30 years

September 1, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 6:15 p.m. Sept. 2, 2015

When Chris Coy interviewed for a teaching position at Hazen High School several years ago, it was clear administrators were looking for someone with a particular set of skills.

“The first question they asked me was what did I know about marching bands,” Coy, now the school’s director of bands and orchestra, said.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Hazen High School senior Devin Dolling plays the drum at an Aug. 18 preseason practice of the school’s new marching band.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Hazen High School senior Devin Dolling plays the drum at an Aug. 18 preseason practice of the school’s new marching band.

Coming from Ohio, a mecca for marching band enthusiasts, Coy knew quite a lot. In addition to marching himself in high school and college, he also taught students to march and play.

With an estimated 10 years of marching band experience under his belt, Coy was the perfect choice to reboot a Hazen marching band program. The Highlanders have gone without one since 1978, Coy said, but that changes in 2015.

“When Coy came here, his goal was to get a marching band going within four years, and he managed to do it in three,” said Hazen senior Devin Dolling, a member of the drum line.

The Highlanders marching band is back in action with about 75 members ready to thrill audiences at football games and community events. They started learning the basics of marching at a school band camp Aug. 17-21.

Playing instruments is one thing, but playing and moving at the same time is quite another, students learned in the weeklong camp.

“It’s been very tiring,” Dowling said. “We’re out in the sun, carrying these pretty heavy instruments, but we’re all going through it together and bonding as a group.”

For a group learning how to march for the very first time, Coy said he has been impressed with everything he has thrown at the students.

The marching band’s return was made possible, in part, thanks to community contributions, Coy said.

Last year, an anonymous donor pledged a $2,000 matching gift if band students could raise $2,000 by the end of the school year. Highlander band students met the goal through a breakfast fundraiser at Applebee’s, online donations from parents and the public, and other means.

“We’ve been really lucky with the community support,” Coy said. “The district doesn’t have the money to just kick-start a marching band out of thin air.”

Marching bands bring an extra sense of spirit and ceremony to events, while also exposing people to the arts, Coy said. Additionally, marching bands can play today’s latest hits, and sound good doing it, Coy added.

Expect to hear Hazen blasting music by the likes of Taylor Swift and Fall Out Boy at home football games this year, Coy said.

“Not only is the marching band going to pump up the crowd, it’s going to energize the team and make for a great game day atmosphere,” Dowling said. “Hopefully it really just encourages everyone to be proud of their Hazen Highlander roots.”

The Hazen marching band will probably perform about 10 times this year, Coy said, including an appearance in the Newcastle Days parade Sept. 12.

Music supporters can still donate online to support the Hazen marching band as it continues to grow at www.hazenboosters.org.

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