FORT COLLINS, Colo. — On our final stop of our “Hearts of Champions” tour, we visit Fossil Ridge High School in northern Colorado.
The Fossil Ridge Marching Band has about 120 students under the leadership of Aaron Herman, who is director of bands for the school that has won four state championship titles in the past 10 years.
Herman said the key to success is the band coming back together after the pandemic to build strong relationships.
“I think as with everyone across the country, the past couple of years with COVID and having to do online learning has been incredibly difficult,” Herman said. “As long as we can continue to build meaningful relationships with kids and encourage them to come out of their shells a little bit and discover who they are a little bit better, I think that we’re going to continue to thrive.”
The marching band spent its two-week summer band camp learning how to march, play instruments and spin flags for their competitive season.
Senior Jack Brockhagen plays trumpet and has marched ever since he was a freshman. He said it’s magical when so many people can create a strong bond over a short amount of time, working for a common goal.
"Some of my best friends come from this program,” Brockhagen said. “Not only are we dancing and marching, but we’re also sprinting up and down these fields, doing stretches bonding as a team, working out together just to become better athletes and better musicians.”
Senior Taylor Johnson is the marching band’s color guard captain. She said marching band helped her gain self-confidence since she joined her freshman year.
“It’s a really big bonding experience,” Johnson said. “It’s taught me a lot about pushing my boundaries and seeing how far I can go because I know that my freshman self would have probably been like ‘I don’t want to do any of this.' ”
Last year, the marching band finished second in the 5A finals, losing the state championship by less than 1 point.
This year, the group wants to change that outcome with a state title win in the fall. These students said that close finish last year is their motivation through band camp.
“I’m just super excited to be in front of an audience and see their reaction to the show,” Brockhagen said. “We (took) second in state, but coming back from COVID, having the show that we had and the product that we had was truly magical, and I’m just really excited to elevate it … turn it up to 11 this year.”
It’s a feeling this marching band hopes will bring them closer together, regardless of the outcome in October.
“We’re all here to support each other, and I think 10-15 years from now, most students aren’t necessarily going to remember the placement or the results,” Herman said. “They’re going to remember how band made them feel and the emotions and excitement that came with those experiences.”
> The video below is the Fossil Ridge High School Marching Band's performance at the 2021 state finals:
Editor's note: This story is part of 9NEWS' "Hearts of Champions: Marching across Colorado" series, where we highlighted marching bands across the state. Share your photos and memories with us using #Bandon9.
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