West Point Warrior Band welcomes 43 rookies

Director Thad Walker: ‘This is probably one of the most energetic, enthusiastic groups I’ve ever had, and I am stoked for it'

West Point Warrior Band wind instrument players practice drills under the direction of Thad Walker. (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. – The West Point High School Warrior Band kicked off band camp recently to get ready for the upcoming fall marching season. Auxiliary members have already learned their routines for the halftime show, and the instrumentalists have a couple weeks of band camp to perfect their music.

Band Director Thad Walker said the theme of this year’s halftime show is “Crazy Love.”

“We have a lot of different love-titled songs in our show,” he said.

Walker said he talks with upperclassmen every year to decide on a theme everyone agrees on.

“I’ve tried to gauge the skill level when we wrote everything out to be pretty close to where we are of course a little ahead to challenge them so they keep getting better,” he said. “We have a very supportive football crowd, so we have a lot of people here. I want to make sure our community is taken care of as far as they will enjoy the show, but it’s also gonna be competitive. I want our judges, when we go to our competitions that we go to in October, to enjoy it just as much. I kind of try to bridge the two ideas together and meet somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I might show something that the audience might never have heard, but it’s part of the experience of getting to educate your audience as well.”

The West Point Warrior Band has 95 students, including 43 seventh-grade rookies. Walker said he’ll be relying on his older students to help teach the huge group of new band students.

“The student leadership teams this year are really good. All of them marched for several years. They’re all really motivated and energetic, too, to be out there with them,” he said. “This is probably one of the most energetic, enthusiastic groups I’ve ever had, and I am stoked for it. A lot of students now are excited to be coming off of Covid, being stuck somewhere. Here they get to be a part of something and doing something involved and they’re just excited to be here. They come in every day – half of them are here 30-45 minutes early.”

Walker said the band has grown in skill over his two short years as band director.

“Covid killed everybody as far as skill and time,” he said. “It’s one of those things – it’s a discipline – you have to be on the horn consistently or it’s not gonna happen, especially at a younger age without having direct teaching. That’s kind of the cool thing with this group. I think most of them have practiced at home, especially this rookie group.”

This week the band practiced with wind instruments and percussion. Next week, July 25-29th, the whole band will take the field to piece together what’s been practiced individually.

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