LHHS Band performs halftime tribute to late Coach Jeff Walker
By Christian Betancourt
The Liberty Hill High School Panther Band showed Friday gamegoers a preview of a tribute performance honoring the late Coach Jeff Walker.
“Our show is a tribute to him and his legacy and impact on the community of Liberty Hill,” said Liberty Hill ISD Fine Arts Director and LHHS Head Band Director Shawn Murphy. “The last team mantra that he had was ‘All of us’. But for us, we’re going to go ahead and call it ‘All of us 4 Hymn,’ because his favorite hymn is there in the show as well.”
The three-minute performance Panther fans experienced Friday is just a taste of what’s to come, according to Murphy, who said the show would evolve each week until the complete performance was ready.
“Every week, there is going to be another production or another layer, or another group of support personnel,” he said. “More props are going to be added to the visual of the production. The quality of what we do, we’re going to clean it. All of that is going to be tightened down as we get towards the end of our competition season. I’m real excited to continue working with these kids and see the show’s progress and the audience’s reaction to it. For our first halftime performance, I thought it went well. I got a lot of positive feedback from parents and administrators throughout the evening.”
The show, Murphy said, will showcase and evoke different emotions tied to Walker’s life and journey.
“The second production is Bernstein’s ‘On the Water Front,’” he said. “It’s very angry and angular and jagged. It’s very aggressive. Football is an aggressive sport, but also cancer is an aggressive disease. We wanted to depict the battle of sorts that those things entail. We are trying to capture conflict with our second production.”
According to Murphy, ‘Amazing Grace’ combined with the Liberty Hill School Song symbolizes Walker’s crossover to the other side and how much the school meant to him.
“His favorite hymn from Sunday was ‘How Great Thou Art,’ and that’s going to be our closer for the entire show,” he said. “I feel this a very important show for our community and for a very special man. We wanted to pay tribute and honor his legacy.”
Music will not be the only thing used to complete the tribute. Murphy said clips of interviews would also be a part of the performance.
“There’s going to be moments on the show where you hear his voice,” he said. “You get to hear from him. He never took credit for himself. He always gave credit to others. He was so selfless in that way, and I think people need to know that.”
Walker’s widow, Miranda Walker, said she was present during Friday’s game and heard the clip play over the loudspeakers at Panther Stadium.
“I do love that clip of him,” she said. “That was such a wonderful victory. That was such a great game. When I hear that clip, I really hear the pride he had in the kids and the joy about what they accomplished. It’s obviously emotional in some respects, but it is really great. I can still hear in his voice the pride he took in what his kids accomplished.”
Band members will be joined in their performance by football players, the Liberty Belles, and cheerleaders.
“When the whole show is put together, there will be all of us,” said Murphy. “All of the Friday night support groups will be there together in performance and tribute to Coach Walker.”
Murphy said he regrets not meeting Walker in person but hopes the show will serve as a fitting tribute.
“I got here too late,” he added. “We’re doing this for Coach and for all the people who knew him and loved him. We’re wanting to give this as a gift to them. We want to make it the very best that we possibly can.”
Miranda Walker said she plans on attending every single Panther game of the season and looks forward to hearing the complete program.
“It’s extremely important for me to be there to cheer and support all the coaches and the kids,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing more of it and understanding the whole program. It makes me feel very proud that they drew some inspiration from how he coached and how he lived.”