Wildcat spirit

Temple High School band members show their school spirit during a recent morning pep rally.

First bell might not ring until 8:20 a.m., but members of Temple High School’s marching band begin practicing their routines as early as 7 Friday mornings.

Their musical passion, however, is not the lone driving force assembling them among the turf’s hash marks. They understand they have a responsibility to spread a sense of pride and eagerness among their fellow students for Wildcat football.

Senior Kristopher Dudik said each band rehearsal prior to a pep rally allows him and his bandmates the opportunity to really look forward to each week’s football matchup. The 17-year-old saxophonist highlighted how the music selected for pep rallies is typically more technical and played at a faster pace than their stage performances.

“We really call the tunes as we go on,” Dudik said. “We feed off the energy and play whatever feels right.”

That energy extends to the games later those same evenings. Dudik provided an anecdote about a football game where the band arrived roughly 30 minutes late to a game where the Wildcats were trailing. However, he claimed the momentum of the game shifted in the Wildcats’ favor once the band began performing their music.

Dudik’s favorite pep rally anthem is a tune by the name of “Manville.” It’s a song he and some of the other seniors in the program created at the beginning of the year. The song came to fruition after senior Ben Garcia, 17, began playing a beat on his tuba. Dudik and Garcia both agreed that the rest of the notes just fell together.

“And we definitely have some new stuff on the way,” Garcia added.

Senior Madison Richardson, 17, a member of the THS Kittens Dance Team, also understands the significance of these pep rallies.

“I feel like it’s part of our job as the dance team to get everybody pumped up,” Richardson said. “When we’re moving around, it motivates other people to get up and that especially includes the football players. As soon as some of those band songs come on, the football team stands up and just goes crazy.”

Richardson’s day begins at 4:45 a.m. sharp the morning of each pep rally to allow ample time to put on her makeup, curl her hair and be ready to practice routines with the band at 7 a.m.

Despite the occasional difficulty arriving to school after a long day of practice the previous day, Richardson understands the value of the Kittens Dance Team’s contribution to an energetic pep rally.

“The pep rally really sets the tone for the day,” Richardson said. “We build that energy early in the morning so that it carries on and continues to build throughout the day. Once we are finally at the game we have in my opinion the best student section around.”

Junior cheerleader Hannah Rivera, 16, finds it easy to be energized for a THS pep rally since she and the rest of her cheerleading squad are either throwing or being thrown in the air while performing stunts. She also emphasized how tumbling is always fun in the mornings because they are flipping backwards, helping them wake up a second time in the process.

Rivera, who has been actively participating in cheer since she was in pre-K, loves the energy the band contributes to a rep rally.

“The band is important because they’re able to perform and dance at the same time, getting me so hyped up,” Rivera said.

This is the first year the cheerleading squad has had “zero period,” but Rivera has enjoyed it so far. She believes it allows the team to instantly direct all their energy to cheerleading. Additionally, it normalizes the pep rallies’ start times since it coincides with their scheduled class time.

“It also gets us used to dealing with each other in the morning,” Rivera said with a laugh. “We have gotten good at that.”

The Wildcats’ pep rally theme this morning is “Pink out the ’Roos” as they take on the Killeen Kangaroos football team at 7:30 Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.