Comanche band wins first sweepstakes since 2000

by Todd Brooks

The Comanche band has won many accolades during the 15 years that Derek Milburn has been band director, but there was one that eluded him. That was until last week when the Pride of Comanche won the sweepstakes award for the first time in 22 years.

“This is one of the biggest things I’ve worked for since I took over this job,” Milburn said. “When I was a high school student here we were never able to win it, it was one year after I graduated, so its been since 2000. It’s something we fought for the last 15 years and I’m really elated that we were able to achieve it. I’m on cloud nine, the kids are overjoyed and I can’t thank the kids enough for their dedication.”

The sweepstakes award is the highest honor a band can receive participating in the OSSAA. The Comanche band had to get superior ratings at the regional marching contest in the fall, get superior ratings at the district concert and sight-reading contests in the spring to qualify to go to compete at state. They then had to get superior ratings at the state level in both concert and sight-reading.

Comanche competes in Class 3A.

“You’re not technically competing with other bands,” Milburn said. “Those judges still heard other bands before you so you’ve got to match that.”

It is slightly different than a state championship in sports where there is only one team left standing at the end of the season. Multiple schools can get the sweepstakes award in the same year.

“It’s still the highest achievement that a band can earn,” Milburn said.

Not only is there joy, but also a sense of relief.

“It just feels like a big monkey’s been taken off my back,” Milburn said. “I’m just so proud of these kids.”

There are still a few more competitions left to attend like the state solo and ensemble contests that will have individuals and the percussion ensemble participate.

Later this year, the band will be going to perform at the Outback Bowl in Florida. They are one of several groups that have been invited to participate in the performance with a band totaling in the hundreds for the halftime ceremony.

“When we went to the Alamo Bowl, we had like 700 in the band and the sound was so great and huge,” Milburn said. “A lot of these kids in the community don’t get a chance to travel much, so anytime we can, we are going to give them an opportunity to experience something like that. Just to give them some life experiences.”