Clovis High band plays on

By Eric Butler

From the first day of summer practice, Clovis High band members have one competition constantly on their minds: the Zia Marching Festival. Clovis and 31 other bands from New Mexico and neighboring states participate today in Albuquerque in the state’s premier marching competition.

“This is what we aim for from the beginning. This is like our Super Bowl,” said senior Priya Sharma, a clarinet player and the band president. “I think we have a really good show this year and a really good band. We’ll just have to see how things go.”

Clovis has made the finals 26 straight years — the longest such streak for any band at the competition. Eight times, Clovis has won honors for best New Mexico band and four times has been crowned the overall champion.

On the road before sunrise, the band performs in the preliminary competition at 2:31 p.m., vying for one of 10 spots in the finals tonight at University Stadium. Clovis High band director Bill Allred said fatigue usually is not a factor for his students when the finals roll around.

“If they’re in the hunt, if they’re close enough, we really have a ‘hoorah’ pep speech just before we go to the (finals) warm-up, and they usually turn it on,” said Allred, after the band performed its show for the high school student body Friday morning. “Usually, for the prelims, they’re scared — very fearful and nervous and the sound’s not as strong.”

Allred expects Mayfield, Rio Rancho and Eldorado to be Clovis’ top competition.

“I’ve gone in thinking we were going to run away with it, then we get surprised by a tenth of a point and lose. And I’ve thought we’d lost the thing and we’ve won by a mile,” said Allred, in his sixth year as CHS head band director. “I quit estimating, guessing and predicting. I don’t do it anymore. I have no idea what’s going to happen.”