Southeast Bulloch’s “Swarm” is headed to Macon Saturday to compete in the Georgia Marching Band Series Championship thanks to a Grand Champion performance under difficult circumstances
Fighting gale-force winds and temperatures that were barely above freezing, SEB’s marching band took to the field last Saturday at the Marching Mustang Invitational knowing they had to win the competition to qualify for the championship round. And win is just what the Swarm did.
“I can’t explain in words how proud I am of my kids,” said band director Matt Olsen. “Our band motto is ‘Adapt and Overcome.’ With the ridiculous weather we had Saturday, it took everything we had to simply put on a decent performance. They went a step beyond that and put on the best show of the season — twice!”
Led by band directors Olsen and Joey Mitchell, the 90-plus members of the Swarm and their dance team, the “Stingers,” will head to Mercer University in Macon for the Series Championship event. SEB is one of 10 bands in southeast Georgia to qualify for the final, and the Jackets are scheduled to perform their show at 6:20 p.m. inside Mercer University Stadium. SEB finished third in the event last year.
At the Marching Mustang event, a two-performance competition, the Swarm’s first performance earned the band first overall in Class C.
Also, Statesboro High’s Marching Blue Devils took first runner-up in Class C bands, and took the award for top drum major as well.
Bad weather and all, the Swarm’s booster club, the “Big Yellow Monster,” came out early and cheered for every band as though their own kids were in it.
Both Southeast Bulloch and Statesboro performed their shows once more for the judges. When the final awards were announced, the Swarm had beaten not only the weather, but some of the best and largest bands in the state. The Grand Champion trophy was so tall, it dwarfed even the tallest members of the band.
Long-time booster Vickey Burnsed, the mother of former Swarm drum major Dakota Burnsed, was in the stands supporting her grandson, Lachlan Roe, who plays the mellophone.
“I was always breathless watching Dakota perform after she was chosen by the directors and her fellow students to lead them,” Vickey Burnsed said. “Now, I’m up here again, watching my ‘grand’ marching around on the field in the next generation of the Swarm. I am ecstatic.”
Brandyn Bradford, the Swarm’s guitar player, said: “Saturday was an elating experience. I’m so proud that the Swarm persevered through the harsh weather to put on their best show of the year.”
If you haven’t seen the Swarm perform, the band will play at halftime of Southeast Bulloch’s football home game tonight against Appling County. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
The Championship Series competition is one performance only, with the first band taking the field at 2 p.m. The Swarm is scheduled to perform at approximately 6:20 p.m., and the awards will take place sometime after 9 p.m.