GHS, CGHS seniors selected for U.S. Army All-American Marching Band
Writer / Michelle Kaufman
One Greenwood High School and two Center Grove High School seniors traveled to San Antonio, Texas Jan 1-7 to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Only 125 students from across the country were selected for the honor.
GHS senior Natalie Haynes is the first student in school history to be recognized with the honor. Her French horn teacher mentioned the program, but Haynes didn’t fully consider applying until her sister, Specialist Yelena Haynes, mentioned seeing the band perform during her job training.
“Probably 4-6 weeks in, we got to go to the Army football game, she says. “During halftime, we got to watch the Army band, which was so awesome. After, I texted my dad and said, “Nat’s got to try this out, it’s so cool.”
Natalie found some videos of the band and was fascinated, so she applied and was chosen as one of eight mellophones. Despite being involved in several orchestras and honor bands, Natalie didn’t think she’d make the Army band. When she found out she got in, she was ecstatic.
“It’s an honor,” Natalie says. “I am absolutely thrilled to represent Greenwood in this situation, and I cannot wait to see what it’s like. I think the thing I appreciate the most is when I’m performing something, and I get this feeling of contentment in what I’m doing. One thing I’ve found throughout these seven years of playing is I can’t seem to stop playing my instrument. It’s just what God built me for.”
Natalie will perform in the same stadium and on the same field that Yelena saw. Yelena says the Army and Navy will be there watching her sister and the rest of the band perform.
“Just being in the marching band starting off, I knew what it felt like performing for others, and then I got to be up on the stands and watch them perform,” Yelena says. “It meant a lot to me because I know that they’re out there to support us, so it’s cool to see my own sister go out and support the Armed Forces.”
Center Grove senior Breanna Motsenbocker will play the snare drum in the band. She was encouraged by her director to apply, and her brother also participated in the program when he was a senior.
“He just said it’s an experience that you can’t really describe because it’s not just a marching band show, it’s something for the Army and they sponsor you,” Motsenbocker says. “You get to be around all these Army people, and it’s really something more than just another marching band show.”
“I’m most looking forward to meeting all these new people,” she says. “Obviously, everybody has kind of the same thing in common that we’re all really driven and really excited about playing in marching band.”
Motsenbocker is one of only five snare drums in the All-American band. She says it was a huge honor to be selected.
“It just means a lot because it’s obviously super competitive and everybody’s really good that auditioned,” she adds.
Mackenzie Hawley, a member of the Center Grove color guard, says she has wanted to be a part of the band since she was in eighth grade and has been in guard since first grade. She found out she had been accepted during the first week of July, around the same time she was getting a lot of emails from colleges and thought her acceptance email would be asking her to apply to a college.
“I opened [the email] and started reading and it said, ‘congratulations, you have been chosen,’” Hawley says. “I was so excited, I didn’t think I was going to make it in. I freaked out, I ran up to my mom. I couldn’t even say I made it. I just had to hold my phone up to her and let her read the email herself. It was amazing, honestly.”
“There was a lot of screaming,” says Hawley’s mom, Christy.
Mackenzie has two of her friends from Ohio, where she used to live, joining her in Texas who were also accepted into the band. She is most looking forward for the opportunity to perform and being a part of a group with other talented band and guard members from across the country.
“I just love the experience of actually getting to perform in front of so many people doing what I love with people I love,” she says. “I just think that’s the best part – putting myself out there.”