Red Regime takes second at 3-A state championships
For the first time in school history, the Hartsville High School Red Regime Marching Band earned a medal – a second-place finish – during the S.C. Class 3-A Marching Band Championships.
Of the 48 band programs, the Red Regime also earned recognition as the best visually, which includes movement, costuming, color guard, visuals, dance and marching. The second place finish follows the program’s second consecutive lower state title.
Red Regime Director Cameron Watkins described what the honor means to the school and its students.
“We want the students to pursue excellence in all they do whether on the field or off,” said Watkins. “This year, the students in the Red Regime bought into the program and their purpose very early on. We knew we had to hit the ground running in order to make our mark. It was incredible to hear our name called for silver medalist and high visual execution and to see the emotions pour out of our students. They knew how hard they worked, how much they had put into it, and to be rewarded for that effort is just overwhelming.”
Beginning the school year, the Red Regime knew they were young and still rebuilding from the difficulties of COVID-19. The program lost 12 seniors from last year, eight of whom are continuing their music education at the collegiate level. The Red Regime has never medaled in marching band. They’ve notched fourth and fifth place finished before.
“This year, we were able to show our community, our students, our school, and the future Red Regime members that we have developed an award winning band program across all facets,” said Watkins. “The last tick mark was marching band, and that has happened.”
There is a remarkable level of dedication, hard work and time required to prepare for marching band competitions. Ultimately, it requires the entire membership to work together for success.
“One thing we stress to our students is that we don’t have a bench,” said Watkins. “We don’t have alternates, and there are no time outs or halftime. You must be engaged and focused for the entire performance. These students accomplished something that no one ever thought would happen.”
Drum Major Evan Debellis and Band President Patrick Thomas led the Red Regime on the field. Other student leadership included Chelsea O’Neal, Joanna Neri, Sophia Andreski, Ethan Griggs, Matthew Adams, Kiana McCullen, Patrick Flaherty, Jacob Perdue, Dominic Nunez Smith, Sallie Ward, and Emily Haubner.
In total, the Red Regime comprises 52 students in grades 7 through 12. There are five staff members, three of whom guide every rehearsal and two who help train once per week: Band Director Watkins, Hartsville Middle School Director of Bands Marlin T. Ketter, Bay Road Elementary School Music Teacher Chrisa Murray, Percussion Instructor Tyshon McCants, and Color Guard Instructor Christopher L. Grant.
Stressing the importance of academics alongside marching, the Red Regime provides an after-school study hall prior to rehearsals. Watkins also said it comes as a surprise to some members of the band just how many life lessons they absorb through participation: perseverance, problem solving, working as a team and time management. The Red Regime also draws support from the community.
“We have had many local companies, restaurants, churches, and organizations to help in many ways, such as becoming a sponsor, helping to feed students, and donating time,” said Watkins. “We have had so many parent volunteers this year travel with us and help move equipment and help in other ways. This has been nothing short of amazing for our students. They feel supported.”
While the marching band season has drawn to its successful conclusion, the Red Regime is nowhere near done for the year. Scheduled are concerts, clinics, Winter Guard, Region Band, All-State solo and ensembles, and more.
“Congratulations to all of our students, staff and supporters,” said Watkins. “We have been so fortunate to continue our success from year to year, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.”