Bobcats march to second at YIM

BROOKINGS – Last Saturday was a big day for the Brookings High School Band. 

Members competed against 27 marching bands from a five-state region in the 13th annual Youth in Music Marching Band Championships at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, taking second in the AAA competition.

The band also received Outstanding Color Guard and Outstanding Percussion awards in the AAA category. The 1:15 p.m. prelims performance score of 77.4 earned the band a position in the finals. Members finished the evening program in ninth place overall, moving up past Hastings marching band and just 0.05 points behind Sioux Falls Roosevelt.

It was a successful day on many personal levels as well. BHS senior and percussion section leader Bella Kappenman received a scholarship from Youth in Music. Eighty-two students from 20 schools applied for just five scholarships. She learned about the scholarship opportunity through her band director and submitted an essay about all she has learned being in the Bobcat Band program since her freshmen year.  The scholarship supports participants in the YIM championship, assisting them in furthering their education.

Senior Drum Major Ben Diersen says his favorite part of the day wasn’t just performing in the huge U.S. Bank Stadium, NFL home to the Minnesota Vikings, but the moment the band came together for warm-ups before finals.

“Even though the weather was dreary, the band had so much energy,” Diersen said. “The sound the winds players produced was phenomenal. They put everything they had into it. At every cutoff, I could hear the sound echo back to us, projecting through the city, bouncing off what felt like every building and skyscraper in front of us. We knew we were about to have a very special performance in front of us.”

Junior Drum Major Aubrey Nelson says seeing the band’s progress made all the hard work worth it.

“Being junior drum major this year was the best experience of my life,” Nelson said. “I was able to see individuals in the band evolve into better people and musicians over the course of just a few months. It was so cool to be able to look back and see the progress that the band made and there’s a lot of pride in that.”

BHS Band Director Ron Stary said the band counts on parents to make the whole program work. 

“The Parent Boosters help organize and collect fees for overnight trips like this,” he said, “and that’s just the beginning. There’s tremendous effort involved and it’s all about making it the best possible experience for their kids.”

“Parents worked non-stop from the moment contest managers announced Brookings made finals,” Stary continued. 

“They were busily getting props and equipment ready and delivering it all to performance site, which included a massive ramp deep into the belly of the stadium where TV and cable network semi-trailers are parked. Parents and helpers also worked well after the performance in the rain, right up until the buses were loaded after the final awards ceremony. We couldn’t be competitive on such a large regional scale without them and our generous community of sponsors.”

The band performs in its final marching band competition this Saturday at the USD Quad State event in Vermillion.

To learn more about how to support the BHS Marching Band, visit the Brookings Band Boosters Facebook page, and stay up to date on its progress at


Video News
More In Local