LHHS Band climbs to within .6 points of advancing to State

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By Kristen Meriwether

The Liberty Hill High School competitive marching band season came to an end on Oct. 23 with the band coming within 0.6 points of advancing to the State UIL competition. This is the first year for new Band Director Shawn Murphy, who took the band the furtherest it has been in over a decade.

“I’m super proud of the kids for what they were able to achieve,” Murphy said Monday. “I think having a show dedicated to someone so important to the school and to the community really helped motivate the kids and it just rallied support around us.”

The band’s marching show was called “All of us 4 Hymn,” a tribute to Liberty Hill head football coach Jeff Walker who passed away in December 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Walker, who was 52 when he passed, was a beloved fixture in the community.

The band began rolling out the marching show little by little at football games this fall. They performed their entire competition performance for the first time during halftime of the Oct. 1 Homecoming game against Austin Travis, and all their hard work finally came together.

Murphy said once the band finished the performance, they received a standing ovation from the sold-out Panther crowd.

“I remember the looks on the kids’ faces as they came off the field, how blown away they were, how moved, how shocked they were that people would react that way to a performance of theirs,” Murphy said.

Superintendent Steven Snell took note of the performance and the energy the band has brought to the games the entire year.

“There is so much more energy in the stands on football night,” Snell said on Monday. “They are an integral part of the game now.”

Murphy called the Homecoming performance a pivotal moment for the band, which used the momentum to fuel their competition season. They went into the area competition on Oct. 16 and received a first division. They were one of 19 bands to advance to the area competition at familiar John Gupton Stadium in Cedar Park.

“Those kids were on fire for both prelims and finals in area,” Murphy said. “I’m so glad that we had so many contests there to get used to it and get comfortable in that venue.”

The band had numerous supporters cheering them on at the area competition, where they placed fourth out of 19 bands. They missed going to State by 0.6 points.

“In the past, we didn’t even have a seat at the table,” Snell said. “The fact that we moved to 5A, and we’re right there in year one under a new director and new expectations, it’s nothing short of amazing.”

It was tough to lose by such a slim margin, but it has motivated Murphy to leave no questions for the judges next time.

“We came so close. Let’s make it undeniable next time around,” Murphy said. “Let’s come together, let’s build up our numbers, let’s build up our fundamentals and have another amazing show.”

Marching band, unlike other UIL sports only competes every other year. The next marching band competition for Liberty Hill will be in the fall of 2023.

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