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Crosby’s Big Red Machine is more than just a halftime act

October 1, 2018

When senior Mollie Potter began playing the oboe in sixth grade, she looked forward to being a part of the Crosby High School Band, more colloquially known as the Big Red Machine.

“I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” proclaimed Potter, this year’s drum major. “I thought about the football games and everything, so I was really excited to be a part of that.”

The band, which is made up of over 130 members, along with the Crosby High School cheerleaders and dance team, is known as the “Spirit of Crosby.”

“When I think band, dance, and cheer, that makes our community,” said assistant band director Michael Lehew. “I think without any of that stuff, it’s just a bunch of houses.”

They perform at halftime of every Crosby Cougar football game. The band is currently perfecting its performance for homecoming, which will occur on Friday in a district contest against Dayton at home at 7:30 p.m.

“The Big Red Machine is awesome,” exclaimed Crosby football coach and Crosby ISD athletic director Jeff Riordan. “They help make the Friday night experience in Crosby special.”

The military-style marching band, which is known for its precision choreography, has gained Division 1 rating, the best possible score, at the UIL marching band competition each of the past years, something that gives band director Kevin Knight immense pride.

Knight choreographs the drills and arranges all the music himself.

The band practices together eight hours a week and each person spends several more hours a week practicing on their own time to get ready for the halftime performance and the UIL competition.

In addition to learning their own music and choreography, the band learns a new song to play for the dance team every other week.

“It’s pretty crazy. I’m not going to lie,” Potter said of being on the field at halftime. “There’s all the lights and all the sounds, but you know you have a job to do.”

That’s something that she doesn’t think some people realize, how much performing together means to the members of the Big Red Machine, how seriously they take it, and how important doing the best they can is to them.

“We know that a lot of the people aren’t necessarily watching us,” she admitted. “So we do a lot of this for ourselves, and it’s about putting on the best performance that we possibly can. So having all the lights and everything is super, but really it’s about doing what we love.”

Another thing she thinks some people don’t realize is the physical demands of being in the band.

“If you eat Whataburger every day, this is not for you,” she said. “It may seem like we’re just walking around, but really it’s a lot of core strength. It’s a lot of pushing yourself to limits a lot of these kids have never met before.”

The Big Red Machine adds about a minute to its halftime performance each week. They will perform their entire routine at the UIL marching band competition in early November. They will also be travelling to Chicago in December to perform at the 72nd annual Midwest Clinic, where they will be one of five marching bands from all across the country.

Texas governor Greg Abbott sent the band an official letter of recognition, congratulating them on the prestigious honor.

“Mr. Knight and his colleagues are an asset to our district and community,” said Riordan. “As with most other departments in Crosby, the band is very successful because of how hard they work.”

To learn more about the Big Red Machine, visit their website

elliott.lapin@hearst.com

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