LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Although the competition may be fierce on the court during the Boys’ Sweet 16, it doesn’t mean rivals can’t come together as one.
Whether they are playing on the court, cheering on the baseline, or up in the stands with the band, performing in Rupp Arena can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
That is certainly true for two eastern Kentucky schools, as just 50 miles separate Martin County High School, and Pike County Central High School.
“We’re all pretty close with each other,” said Martin County Athletic Director Chuck White. “I mean, we have rivalries. We have you know, it gets heated between every school, but really, we band together no matter what.”
So, when Martin County’s band couldn’t make it to the school’s 15th Region Semi-Final game back in early March, an unlikely, yet likely, partnership was formed.
“Once the game went into overtime, my band was set up and they had made relationships with the students of Martin County,” said Pike Central Band Director Jason Johnson. “So, Martin County’s fans started cheering for the Pike Central Band to start playing for them. So, we kicked up and started playing some songs or cheerleaders started dancing to it. It was just this really unique, beautiful moment of students just supporting other students.”
After Martin County went on to win the 15th Region, sending them to the Sweet 16, an awesome idea was hatched.
Why not send both bands to Rupp Arena?
“Really it’s almost like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” White explained. “It’s definitely a once-in-a-high-school career opportunity for these kids. So why would we limit the experience just to our kids.”
“The entire room was just ecstatic to be able to be with other students and to be able to those relationships, to be able to hear those all the way to Lexington, Kentucky,” Johnson recalled.
Putting on full display that Appalachia always has each other’s back.
“Over generations, you really don’t lose that sense of family bond or the regional bond aspect,” White said. “So, I think it’s just kind of ingrained in our culture is it’s just it’s just stayed is what it is and we’re just real proud of this area.”
The kids said this has been an amazing experience.
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“It’s really nice to know that a little thing that we do for fun has made so much happen for us and everybody else involved,” said Pike Central band member Tanner Newsome.
And if there was any doubt, Thursday was a prime example of rocking all night and partying every day.
Although Martin County lost to Frederick Douglas in the Sweet 16, the two bands were untied together in red t-shirts.
Just bands supporting bands.