Warrior Corps brings light and energy

“No football game would be the same without the band playing the Alma Mater or playing the fight song after every touchdown. The band makes the game more exciting,” remarked flute player Marie Schrag, a junior.

While the marching band has consistently performed at football games for many years, they experienced significant changes this year. In the spring of 2022, then Band Director Mr. David Banks retired after twenty-two years. The new director leading the Warrior Corps Marching Band is Mr. Nicholas Ratay.

Mr. Ratay graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Music Education and did his student teaching at Revere High School. This is his first teaching job. He acknowledged that, although learning the traditions and marching styles of Walsh’s band has been challenging, it is a welcome one which he accepts wholeheartedly.

Marching Band season starts in July with Band Camp. During those two weeks, members learn the music and marching formations to all the songs they will play during the football season. Under Mr. Ratay, the band learns the music and the formations simultaneously. As the weeks progress, all the pieces and parts slowly come together.

(Left to Right) Isabel Kusmic ’25, Annabel Swegan ’25, and Ava Weekly ’25 play the Fight Song on their respective instruments.

The band doesn’t stop practicing after camp. All after school practices start with a quick gathering to discuss any issues regarding music or marching and any upcoming events. Next, the entire band heads down to the stadium to run through the entire show on the field.

Senior Alanna Dowdy, drum major and baritone sax player, commented, “Our main goal of every rehearsal is to always be better than last time. That way we’re always putting our best foot forward.”

On home football game days, the members meet before the game to eat dinner. Afterward, they run though all the songs and hype each other up. When Mr. Ratay has determined the band is ready, they cadence down to the field to the rhythmic beat of the drums. From their arrival to the end of the game, the musicians intermittently perform all the songs they have been working on. The most important part of their performance is the halftime show.

This year, the band broke from tradition since the three drum majors, Alanna Dowdy, Jacob Kim, and Taryn Daniels, designed the halftime show. Traditionally, the band director would be in charge of picking the music, choreographing the marches, and conducting the band. Now, the drum majors have total creative control.

The theme for the halftime show this year is “Light.” Songs include “All of the Lights” by Kanye West, “Counting Stars” by One Republic, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, and “Light ‘Em Up” by Fallout Boy.

Dennis Schaefer ’25 plays the Fight Song on the sousaphone.

Sophomore Hank Stager, who plays trumpet, stated, “My favorite song would be ‘Counting Stars’ because it sounds the best when we play it well.”

Senior Jake Eisner has been impressed by the band’s performances over the years. “They’ve been consistently good and never have an off night,” he said.

“The most important thing is for kids to have fun,” said Mr. Ratay about his personal music education philosophy. He believes that when fun is prioritized, student leadership skills and musical talent will follow.

Senior Daniel Smole believes the Warrior Corps embodies this philosophy. “During the football games, their energy is contagious. Everyone performing [in the halftime show] seems enthusiastic and having the time of their life,” he said.