By Saeri Plagmann, Features Editor
Making his way into John F Kennedy High School’s auditorium, the Sacramento Kings basketball player, Vince Carter, was welcomed by the Kennedy Marching Band on Monday, December 11, 2017. Kennedy is renown for its marching band, which won sweepstakes in several regional competitions and will be heading to Washington D.C. to perform at the end of the school year. Carter, a 20-year NBA veteran and eight-time all-star, won a gold medal with his U.S. teammates in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Carter visited due to his original wish to congratulate and support the 150 students who make up the band by playing with them, as a high school marching band alumni himself. “It was great to walk in and hear you play. I hope you guys love what you’re doing and not see it as a chore. A lot of people, they say this and that about music but they wish they could do what you’re doing.” he said.
As a student, Carter was encouraged by his parents to be actively involved in extracurriculars. From learning to play seven different instruments to playing volleyball and basketball, most of Carter’s time was taken up by after school practices. The rigorous schedule hardly seemed to leave enough time for anything else, but his hard work and dedication helped to maintain a high GPA, allowing him to graduate with honors.
Many students at Kennedy have experienced taking on other sports while in marching band, and several have admitted the difficulty of time management. “Especially with the added weight of classes, a lot of the time I found myself stricken for time when it comes to homework.” said Kairee Brown, senior at Kennedy and marching band student.
Others have also acknowledged the need to give up a sport over marching band for the sake of making more time for themselves and academics. “It was hard for a while, that’s why I had to make the decision, do I want to stick with music and pursue it more? Or do sports and band as a fun thing?” said Antonio Novoa-Castillo, senior at Kennedy and marching band student.
When considering the much-experienced struggles faced by students, Carter’s accomplishments were seen as unfeasible by many. At this, Carter said, “What do you want to get out of your career as a student-athlete? You have to be willing to put the work in. It’s just the dedication.” By effectively managing time for practices, homework, study, and personal time, “it can work,” he said.
The closed session between Carter and the Kennedy band was short-lived, as students from around the campus came to listen to his advice and childhood experiences. D’Angelo Reed, junior at Kennedy and basketball player, said, “He was a very go-getting man, adventurous. He gave me [the] inspiration to try new things, so I’m gonna follow his lead. Try to do things outside my comfort zone. You can be more than just an athlete.”
Bryan Stroh, band and choir director at Kennedy, also felt Carter’s visit to have been a rare and exciting experience for everyone at Kennedy. “By coming in he shows students they can be part of anything. They can be committed and dedicated to multiple passions.” he said. Although basketball and music have distinct differences that make the two unlikely to mix, Stroh claims they both correlate when it comes to the “development of specific skills and maturity.”
As a marching band graduate who was offered a music scholarship, many anticipated Carter to perform with the Kennedy band, though it was not until later in the interview when he confessed his lack of practice for many years. Nonetheless, band members expressed their gratitude for his visit by performing Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, reverberating sounds from a variety of instruments all throughout the campus.
As one of the few schools in the area to have a marching band and color guard, Kennedy has been recognized by many in and out of the community. Their success has given them the opportunity to perform in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. on May 28, 2018, and donations are now open to help pay for the trip. For more information, go to www.jfkennedyband.com.