As Alex Maas stood with the other 110 members of the Fort Dodge Senior High Marching Band just outside the wall of Dodger Stadium, a few tears welled up in her eyes.
"It's emotional," the senior drum major said. "I love this band and I'm going to miss it next year."
A few minutes later, she and the rest of the group were on the field showing the judges in the ninth annual North Central Iowa Marching Band Clinic and Competition what they can do.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Keegan Gormally, a Fort Dodge Senior High senior, shows off his trombone and marching skills Saturday during the ninth annual North Central Iowa Marching Band Clinic and Competition at Dodger Stadium. Gormally earned the Top Soloist trophy. Fort Dodge took second place in the 4A division with 71.2 points out of a possible 100.
The tears were gone. It was just her and the band.
They did well. The judges gave them 71.2 points and second place.
"It went really well," she said afterward. "They proved what we have."
First Place: Des Moines Lincoln High School, 79.2
Second Place: Fort Dodge Senior High, 71.2
Third Place: Waterloo East, 65.3
First Place: Saydel High School, 71.7
Second Place: Esterville Lincoln Central, 66.4
Third Place: Algona High School, 65.8
First Place: Aplington-Parkersburg, 56.2
Second Place: West Marshall State Center, 54.8
Third Place: Pocahontas Area Pomeroy-Palmer, 53.2
Fort Dodge Senior High Director of Bands Mike Richardson was proud of his group's performance too.
"That was the best they've done all year," he said. "It was their strongest performance."
Besides a trophy, he said, the day's experience provides the band with something valuable - education - from the feedback and tips given during their early morning, and slightly chilly, clinic.
"It's all about the education," Richardson said. "That's the purpose for doing this."
He said the clinic allows him to incorporate things learned into the judged performance. Also, each band gets a DVD of its performance and a recording of the judges' audio comments to review later.
Kurt Kissinger, Algona High School director of instrumental music, gave his band a few hints before they took the field.
"Perform everything like you intended to do it, " he said. "Don't make anything look like a mistake."
He was pretty sure the band was relaxed and good to go.
"Everyone gets the jitters," he said. "It's how we handle it that counts."
Many in the audience were bundled up in coats, huddled under blankets or wearing their winter hats. For one of the judges, Mike Eckerty, band director at Simpson College, it was no issue at all.
"I love band in this temperature, " Eckerty said. "It's way better than being hot."
Of course, he had a slight edge.
"I've got my long johns on."