|RC band enhances football experience
One of the coolest parts of attending a Rancho Cotate High football game occurs shortly after play is concluded.
That’s when the school’s marching band files out of the stands, takes its place right outside the entrance to Cougar Stadium and gives a mini-concert as fans leave the stadium. It’s been an ongoing tradition since band director Tim Decker took over eight years ago.
“When I first came in, when we had the old stadium, we used to go over and play in the quad whenever we’d win,” Decker said. “So, once they built the new stadium, we decided to come out here in front and play for all the crowd as they exited.”
One of the few bands
Not many high schools in Sonoma County can boast of a high school band. Those without a band have no idea how a band can enhance a game experience.
During lulls in the action at most football games in the county, fans are treated to the rumblings of the crowd or piped-in music over the loudspeaker. But at a Rancho Cotate game, the band often breaks into modern tunes such as Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You (PG version)” or Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.”
The band’s postgame performances usually draw a number of passersby, including many from the opposing teams.
“I can’t recall ever seeing this after a game at any other school we’ve been to,” said Alison Stom, a parent of a Las Lomas player, following the Cougars’ win over the Knights in a North Coast Section Div. II playoff game on Nov. 16. “I think it’s wonderful the band gets to be a big part of it all.”
Such comments are common, according to Decker, but he said it usually comes from the same people.
“People have gotten used to us, and they’ll always come by to say hello…that’s always nice to hear,” Decker said.
Rancho Cotate’s band also has a stake in the success of the football team, as it is not allowed to play after a home loss.
“The kids really look forward to it and get disappointed when we lose and don’t get to play,” Decker said.
Only one missed concert
In the past three seasons, Rancho Cotate’s band was silent after a game only once – last year’s semifinal loss to Concord. During and after the win over Las Lomas, Rancho Cotate’s band showed its mettle by performing on the field, in the stand and after the game in a driving rainstorm.
Decker said the number of band members fluctuates from year to year. When he first arrived, there were about 45 members. Last year, he said there were 80 kids involved, but that number dropped to around 55 or 60 this year.
The after-game performances usually involve the same songs, according to Decker, such as one of the old standbys – “Gonna Fly Now,” (the theme to the movie “Rocky”). The halftime shows, however, are new every year.
High public profile
Because, unlike sports such as football, basketball and wrestling, there is no built-in feeder program, the band has to be out in public in order to boost recruitment of new members.
“We go to the elementary schools and middle school and play and try to be seen as much as possible,” Decker said. “We’ll do concert band and concerts throughout the spring.”
They also get to show off the new uniforms they received in October of last year.
This was the band’s first full year with the new uniforms. The full band’s competition schedule is over but the drum line and color guard will begin their winter competitions, which run from January through March.