The “Joyful” Return of the Marching Blue Devils


Yesenia Ruiz, Staff Writer

The Marching Blue Devils Competition Band had an outstanding season this year, which capped off at their impressive performance at University of Illinois Marching Band Championships on Oct 22, 2022. Let’s take a look back on their journey to this state performance. 

The Marching Blue Devils were thrilled to hear the results of the referendum this past summer, effectively reinstating their competitive season. However, this meant a quick turnaround had to occur for the season and that the band was months behind in preparation. The Blue Devils began work right away, with major added challenges arising. With the uncertainty of the referendum and the arrival of an incredible opportunity elsewhere, the Blue Devils previous director left at the end of last school year, leaving the Blue Devils with big shoes to fill. Additionally, the show they were to perform had not yet been written. They had no drill, no music, and no director with only 2 months until their first competition. They had a big job to do, and their determination and resilience was put to the test. Eventually, they welcomed new director Lawrence Rogers, and began rehearsals for their new show, “Joy”. The title was fitting of the attitude of the band members, who were elated with their program being restored. 

North Knights Marching Festival on September 11, 2022

On September 11th 2022, the Blue Devils were slated to perform at their first competition at the North Knights Marching Festival at Grayslake North High School. It was a rainy Sunday morning, and they were anxious to get their show on the field for the first time. The first competition of the season was always challenging, but this one threw a particular wrench in their plans. The rainfall was too abundant and the competition was forced to be moved inside. This meant they would not march, and only perform the music from their show. The Blue Devils did not let this throw them. Music had historically been a strong suit of the band, and they had amazing soloists and ensemble members this year. They performed in class 2A, and had their most powerful performance yet. A little rain could not stop the Marching Blue Devils, and they took home the grand champion trophy, beating out every other group in attendance. The Blue Devils were still celebrating their musical accomplishments and were prepared to have their first performance on the field when they headed to the Downers Growth Marching Mustang Bowl on October 5th 2022. It was a beautiful yet windy day. The Blue Devils finally had all movements of their show written and added to the field,  as well as new visuals they were ready to show off. They had a strong performance, their musicality shining through once again, but still with visual work to be done individually to prepare for UIUC. The Devils ultimately took home 2nd in Class 1A, and best in music and auxiliary.

Downers Growth South Music Bowl on October 8, 2022

Finally, the long anticipated University of Illinois Competition had arrived. After a long season of dedication, forming friendships, and countless adjustments, the Blue Devils were ready to leave it all on the field. They only had one shot to perform. All season had led up to this one moment. Emotions ran high. For seniors, this would be their last performance. They had to make it count. The Blue Devils took the field that afternoon, performing in Class 6A. While no performance is perfect, this one certainly brought joy to the band. Many members surpassed personal goals, and the group as a whole was stronger than ever.  They were greeted with an eruption of applause as they hit their final formation. The Blue Devils celebrated a clean performance, specifically their improved visual aspects, and awaited the awards. Would all the hard work be enough? This was a major competition, there was no guarantees on anything. Many great bands performed in their class, all with different strengths and unique stories to tell through their music. As their band director often tells them, the joy can only happen after the hard work is done. That statement certainly rings true as the Marching Blue Devils are announced for 3rd place in class 6A. The cherry on top? The Blue Devils received a tie for the best visual score. This would make the first time the Blue Devils have won this award in a major competition. The Blue Devils take home their new trophies, feeling satisfied. The Visual caption felt like validation that their hard work had paid off. Their placement ultimately was not the most important thing that night, but rather being proud of an end product that they had to fight tooth and nail for. 

The season was full of many trials and tribulations, but the Blue Devils did not let that stop them. It certainly was a joy of a season, and we can’t wait to see what they do next year.