It was a humid morning in East Texas. The Mighty Tiger Marching Band was getting ready to preform their show at the Northeast Texas UIL Marching contest. Our hearts where pounding. We had been practicing nonstop awaiting this day. The wind blew my sticking hair into my face as we lined up to march in. My hands shook, and my breaths trembled. Nerves knotted my stomach as they announced us. The shrill whistle of the Drum Major called us to attention. With equipment in hand I stepped off with the rest of the band and we proudly marched onto the field. We took our place for our opening set. I took a deep breath and snapped into my opening pose. The music poured out of the instruments, and the colorguard leapt into action. set after set we flowed across the field, the colorful silks waving and telling a story to match the intensity of the song. With a smile on my face I put all I could into my performance. The first song quickly came to a close and we struck our last pose. With solid posture we waited four counts and colorguard ran off the field and quickly got ready for the second song.
I grabbed my rifle and stood up, smiled at the judges, and took a deep breath. Rifle wasn't my strong suit, but I was confident that I would make my coach proud. The music started and I raced into the routine. With rifle spinning and feet kicking in the wet grass I saw the rest of guard stand with their flags. The rifle portion was ending soon. I jumped forward into my last toss. I pushed the rifle into the air and pulled my leg up into my pose. As the rifle came down I realized that I had giving it to much spin. The rifle missed my waiting hand and spun directly into my face before falling to the ground. I grabbed my mouth with shock for a split second before grabbing my flag and joining the rest of my team back on the field. I corrected my timing and smiled big. I could feel blood pooling in my mouth. "Is their blood running down my face? Just keep smiling, maybe no one noticed." I thought to myself. I made eye contact with my coach on the sideline, her face told me otherwise. Everyone had seen.
I finished the rest of the show on pure adrenaline. I didn't feel my mouth. We struck our last pose for the last song. Their was a thundering applause from the audience. As the band played our exit cadence the adrenaline dissipated, and my mouth began to throb in pain. I ran my tongue across my teeth, for fear that they wouldn't be there. My still intact front teeth reassured me that it wasn't as bad as the pain lead me to believe. tears were beginning to form while I tried to hold myself together long enough to get off the field. We pivot and marched off the track and relaxed. As soon as I was out of range of the judges I let out a pained sob and clamped my hand over my mouth. My colorguard coach and band directors ran over asking questions.
"Are you okay?" "Let me see." "You still good." "Do I need to call someone?"
Mr. X, who used to be a director at the school we were competing at, ran and got me a napkin to clean my face. My fellow band mates and guard sisters checked on me and asked if they could help. Tears continued to run down my face. I calmed down enough to finally talk and my first question was, "Mrs. Kirby, did we do well?" She laughed and told me we did amazing. "I'm very proud of you for finishing the show, and with a smile on your face. It looks worse than it really is." She reassured me. My band directors came back from the judging both and told me that everyone had seen it and already had ice waiting for me. Every was very impressed with the fact that I didn't run off the field in tears.
Later, after the bleeding had stopped and I had a good laugh about everything I went and checked my still throbbing mouth. I had a swollen lip, cut up gums, and blood in my teeth. At awards we found out that we and made such a high score that we got to preform again.
As we got ready to line back up and preform in the finals everyone told me, "we are really glad for the pity points we got from your busted face, but try not to catch the rifle with your teeth this time." with a laugh. It became the running joke, before every performance.
The next monday, while we were listening to the commentary form the guard judge we waited for him to say something about my rouge rifle. To our surprise he didn't see me bust my mouth, but instead thought I had been having timing problems.
Even though it was one of my most painful moments in high school, it's also one of my favorite, because it showed me just how strong I really am. More than one big guy told me that even they wouldn't been able to finish. I'm proud of my mistakes because they what make me who I am.