Desert Vista’s marching band is gearing up for another award-winning year. This past year, the band clinched its second championship title, leaving both band director Josh Thye and his students hungry for another. The past season marks only the third time Arizona has had a marching band state competition, and the Thunder has only lost the championship the first year it was held in 2009, where they were still awarded the second place trophy.

“We’ve not always been at this level, and it’s been a fun journey,” said Thye. “The students have taught me a lot about being resilient; what they did this year was amazing.”

Thye is right when he says that what the Thunder marching band accomplished this year was not just amazing, but actually unheard of. Because of the infancy of the statewide competition, DV’s band had the unique opportunity to set the bar very high for future years with their back-to-back wins.

“Considering that no one had done it before, it was exciting,” said Tina Seideman, who plays the baritone, when asked about the DV marching band’s second win. “It’s great that the Arizona marching circuit is picking up speed.”

Not willing to wait, Thye and his band are already looking towards the upcoming season, considering ways to continue to challenge their competition. The marching band began summer rehearsals the week after school was out, and after a four-week vacation resumes an intense training schedule, practicing up to nine hours a day at band camp in Heber, Ariz.

“We’re going to practice hard and work hard, just like we did last year,” said Thomas Anderson, a band member who plays the tuba and the trombone, regarding the band’s preparation for a possible third state title. The band is planning on incorporating new elements into its performance, however, hoping to top last year’s use of trampolines in their routine.

But the high costs of uniforms, travel, equipment, and competition fees pose an entirely different challenge for the Thunder marching band. Carrie McNeish and Wendy Johnson, the fundraising co-chairs of the band’s booster organization, are already looking for funds to help offset the expenses the band will face during the season.

“To reach our goals we need money and support,” McNeish said. “Fundraising always seems to get a bad rap, but we are determined to put the ‘fun’ back in ‘fundraising’.”

Both McNeish and Johnson are encouragingly optimistic, but they say they need the help of the community and any local businesses willing to sponsor the DV marching band.

The primary sponsors (12 non-competing businesses called the TUKEE 12) will have signage and marketing offers with the band, along with other perks available to them. McNeish and Johnson are also looking for lower-level sponsors seeking to place ads in the band and football programs. Both individuals and businesses are encouraged to support the marching band, although sponsors are requested to sign up by July 15.

“Our first priority as fundraising co-chairs is to line up the band sponsorship for the year,” McNeish said. “Wendy and I think working with local businesses is very important. It helps to build a strong community.”

For more information on sponsorship or fundraising, contact

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Mitchell Hammer is a senior at Desert Vista High School. He is interning this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News.

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