A 7 Second Breakdown
In a figurative and literal fashion
Every year the Sprague Olympian Marching Band spends hours rehearsing, marching,playing, and fund-raising. Months of preparation, practice, competitions, and dedication culminate in the annual Oregon Festival of Bands Championship. The routine was flawless, the steps and music committed to memory, and the band had taken first place in preliminary competition. The time had come for finals competition. The band marched out of the tunnel into Autzen Stadium to thunderous applause. The drums started a groove and the show began. Feet flew, players blew, and everybody knew this was going to be the best show ever played by our band. Just as our work was about to pay off, seven seconds of utter chaos jeopardized our chances of a flawless show. This is the story of my thoughts, thought by thought and second by second, as a series of unfortunate events unfolded before my very eyes. The running timer is recording the time up to and starting at the beginning of the incident. -
04:00 minutes into the show
It is two minutes before the end of the show. The clarinet section is stopped at a halt and has just finished playing a phrase of music. We are mentally preparing to make our next move. In one half a second we will be moving to the right twenty yards, in only 12 steps. Right in front of us is a judge, so we need to march perfectly, no mistakes. Unfortunately I wont make it. -
The clarinet line is almost to their spot, where we will have to do a quick turn backwards and march to our next set. When marching along the length of the field, it is proper technique to face forward with the upper body and march sideways with the lower body. Unfortunately, this technique enabled me to see a flash of silver just one half-second before it would be too late. It is at this exact moment my peripheral vision catches one player who has jerked backwards from his spot, and that I, the next clarinet player in line, witness a glint of silver just out of the corner of my eye. I have no time to react. My mind thinks, Weird!
My upper body has stopped moving in the direction I want it to go. Instead, my head hascome into contact with what at first appears to be a big pole. My mind thinks, This is not part of the routine I have practiced, nor did it happen 5 hours ago in preliminary competition, so what is going on?
My movement is now redirected toward where my upper body was facing, toward thesideline. I am falling down, off the field, but can see a large metal pole falling right in front of me. My mind thinks, All right, I ran into a pole. That explains the silver flash, and the person to my right jerking back. He must have been avoiding the pole. Why is there a pole here? Will it get hurt falling? What is it? Im falling.
It is at this point my mouth and ability to speak catch up with my minds thought process.As the case may be, my voice sounded the first thing it could under the circumstances, while my mind was busy thinking things through. Oh Shit! My mind thinks, This is a microphone stand, I can see the little black microphone on the end. I really hope it doesnt break. Its falling awfully close to our percussionist, I hope it doesnt hit him. The ground is getting closer, I should try not to fall.
My mind thinks, Uh oh, I just swore very loudly as I was falling onto a giantmicrophone. I never swear! Why did I swear into a giant microphone? Im falling.
My attempt at avoiding falling has failed. I cant stop myself from falling and am a merefoot away from contacting the soft green turf. The microphone pole has just hit the turf. It missed our percussionist. My mind thinks, I hope my uniform doesnt rip when I hit the ground. Im going to fall on this pole, I hope I dont hurt it. I hate this stupid pole! Oops, Im losing my grip on my clarinet. Im going to drop it. I hope it doesnt get hurt.
I hit the ground. My mind thinks, My clarinet is gone, I need to pick it up. I cant see! My shako is covering my eyes! This ground is squishy. I hope I can get back into my spot. This is going to really screw up our score!
I have fixed my shako and grabbed my clarinet. I am now on my knees. My mind thinks,Where are we in the show? Where are we in the music? Where do I need to get to? I need to get about 10 steps behind where I am, and I have about half of the normal time to get there.
I am now standing and have lifted my clarinet to my mouth. My left foot has movedback twice as far as it normally has to, in order make my next set. My mind thinks, Will I get there in time? How bad was the fall? There is the microphone laying on the ground. I cant believe I ran into it so hard! Holy crap, the judge is standing right in front of me. He saw the whole thing!
I have made it to my spot. I am ready to march to my next spot, and have recovered. The entire incident, from start to finish took 7 seconds. My mind did more thinking thanit ever has at one time, my mouth did more swearing than it has ever done at one time, and I fell more than I have ever fallen in 2 years of marching. Unfortunately, I was thinking during a period of time that should be completely committed to memory, swore for the first time in public while 2 feet away from a microphone and in front of several thousand people, and fell during finals of the Oregon Festival of Bands Championship. Later, I found out the pole had hit another player and sliced his lip open. That is one of only two things preserving the memory of this 7-second moment of chaos. Sean Managhans blood has been spilt on the 40 yard line in Autzen Stadium and on every DVD sold of the performance a subtle but distinct Oh Shit can be heard over the crashing of a microphone stand, during Sprague High Schools first place finals performance.