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A little reflection and a lot of gratitude from King

USSBA Director, team look forward to winter events


Finally, a break in the clouds, and a rainbow overhead. USSBA Director Sean King at the Towson University show in Towson, Md.

US Scholastic Band Association Director Sean King credits everyone around him for an extraordinary 10-week season. And that includes the thousands of band students, hundreds of band directors and the supportive parents and boosters that travel with them. There are a myriad of details that come with coordinating nearly 150 events in 16 states. It could be overwhelming, but with a veteran USSBA team, and the understanding that changes can, and will, happen, the job can still get done, and marching pageantry events can bring about amazing and memorable experiences. 

As evaluations and post-season meetings fill the schedule, and planning kicks up for an inaugural USSBA Indoor program, King reflects on the recently completed outdoor marching season.  

Tell us your thoughts on how the season went overall: 

SK: The USSBA team was a little soggy by the end of the season, but overall pleased with the outcome of the season for our bands, judges and show staff.  We had entered into the season wanting to improve our overall quality of service, paying particular attention to the details, communication and people that make up the million working parts that go into a season of 150 events and setting a new all-time high for our number of participating bands (725) and individual performances (more than 2,000). 

Weather issues seemed to be a recurring theme. Looking back at how things were handled internally and at events, what are your thoughts? 

SK: At the outset, the goal was to make sure the bands did not wind up on the day of the event in the middle of a terrible situation.  Being a non-profit organization, obviously there are always financial ramifications to any decision, but we feel the correct calls were made and while Mother Nature dealt us a difficult hand this fall, but we are extremely proud of the team in putting in the extra time and focus necessary to accomplish the goal of having  great, dry events.  

We would be remiss if we did not mention the flexibility of the bands and their supporters, which was unbelievable. The Pennsylvania, New York and New England state championships unfortunately were impacted on a greater level, but in the end the students who did have the opportunity to perform had a great experience. 

Tell us about other challenges besides weather that crept up? 

SK: Having a solid team of veterans was the key to avoiding some of the issues of past years.  With the exception of Courtney Beard, our behind-the-scenes and show day teams had a few years of experience to rely helped keep those inevitable travel issues and mis-communications to a minimum. 

The best memory you have for your first season as Director of the USSBA: 

SK: Probably the infamous “rainbow” incident from the Mid-Atlantic Championship at Towson University.  After being through two solid weeks of rain planning and a full day of watching the radar as the rain crept into the Towson area, we made the call to postpone the beginning of the event to 6 p.m.  At approximately 5:45, the rain stopped, the clouds cleared and a rainbow appeared at the far end of the stadium as the first band took the field.  Not a single drop of rain fell for the remainder of the event.  Good times! 

What’s ahead for fall 2010?

SK: We’re already at work on the schedule.  Working from the end of the season backward, we will be announcing the Championship events in the coming days and weeks as schedules are solidified. 

We are excited to be expanding our services in areas throughout our core markets such as Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York... We are also looking at expansion into other areas where we’ve seen tremendous possibility, including Texas and Tennessee.  One state that came online this year was Florida, and we look to be doing more in the Sunshine State in the months and years to come. 

Lastly, there’s an exciting new level of events we will be looking to introduce to serve premier marching bands across the country.  More information on those events coming soon. 

Feedback from band directors, staff and adjudicators - how crucial is it? 

SK: It’s the only way we can improve our performance.  We’d like to believe no other scholastic music service organization in America places so much importance on the service of our bands, judges and show staff, especially at such a large number of individuals.  We are constantly surveying all parties for their feedback on how we can do our job better.  Great customer experiences are our ultimate goal.   Whether it’s a band director in the band room, judge in an airport, show staff team member on the field or band member or booster in stands – those are the folks we need to ensure have a great experience. 

More immediately, what are plans for the coming winter and spring? Tell us more. 

SK: Besides planning for the 2010 Fall Season, the USSBA team is hard at work on the inaugural 2010 Indoor season throughout the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland region.  Building an entire circuit from the ground up has its challenges but we hope with the amount of positive buzz we’ve heard, each of our local event hosts and the Indoor Championships will be met with the same result as our shows in the fall. 

Lastly, we’re working on the launch of March4Music, the first cooperative fundraiser for music programs.  With 10 communities coming together for a one day March-a-thon, we believe we can do much to assist music programs to raise awareness and funds for their schools.


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