High school marching band is an activity that requires incredible amounts of mental and physical stamina. And during any other year, thousands of students across the South Plains endure the West Texas heat to practice. But with coronavirus mandates in place that require face masks to be worn as often as possible, practices will be a little different this year.
Lubbock Cooper High School Band Director Nicole Baxter explains. “We’ll be following all of Governor Abbott’s guidelines, as well as TEA and UIL. So there will be a lot of mask use, a lot of sanitization, a lot of breaks. But in addition to that, with the heat and masks, we have a unique issue where we’re going to have to take a lot more breaks. Kids will have their water bottles pretty much at all times. We’re going to try and make sure that they have access to water constantly […] We’ll do shade breaks where I’ll say “go find a shady spot”, sit there for 10 minutes and cool off. Take your mask off and make sure you’re spread apart.”
During a normal year, Baxter says repetition and consistency is key to building up her students strength during a West Texas summer.
Baxter continues, “on a typical year we would normally make sure that all of kids have access to water. We kind of break them in, when summer band begins, we start, it’s hot outside, so we acclimate them to the heat throughout the year. We spend more and more time outside so that they get use to being hot. We do workouts in gradually increasing amounts so that they get used to that. We do take frequent breaks. We have to make sure that they are prepared for those hot time when they’re stuck in a hot, black band uniform and it’s 100 degrees outside.”