It's a beautiful day for a ball game as the Unionville High School team takes the plate. Just look at the gleam of confidence in that young man's eye as he steps into the batter's box and takes a careful grip on his … conducting baton.
Oh, you thought we were talking sports? Well we are – sort of.
Last week, the UHS marching band spent the week learning and rehearsing their routine for the 2012-13 season celebrating 'Baseball: An American Tradition.'
Director Scott Litzenberg said that he's wanted to do a baseball-themed routine for quite some time and the opportunity finally seemed right.
'A friend of mine's band did a baseball thing last year, so I talked to him and got an idea of what I wanted to do,' Litzenberg said. 'So we actually put the baseball diamond onto the field. We even have foul lines.'
He's not exaggerating either: the band members rehearsed their routines on the grounds of Chadds Ford Elementary School's back field last week, surrounded by large wooden boxes meant to represent the bases. There's even a pitcher's mound and the aforementioned foul lines and the whole thing starts with the color guard – in baseball uniforms – playing a game on field.
'We like to do shows that are crowd appealing, we don't like to be super-serious,' Litzenberg said. 'We value the entertainment part.'
Litzenberg said the routine explores the past of baseball, and the hopes and dreams of one young man as he yearns to take to the field.
Using a band member's younger sibling as that dreamer, the show starts with him in a little league uniform surrounded by the images of baseball's legendary giants – Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron – in the form of printed banners.
'At the end of the show, when he comes out, that little kid is now grown up and he's up for his first at-bat in the major leagues, and he hits a homerun,' he said.
At that point, LItzenberg said, the backdrop changes to become the Major League Baseball card of the young batter at the start of the show.
'We're kind of going through the whole story of baseball,' he said.
The kids at UHS band camp spend roughly one week, eight hours a day, rehearsing their steps for the routine bit by bit in the morning, working from pages of graph paper and hash marks to represent their steps. The show then moves indoors to work on the music later in the day, with a third session combining two as the week continues.
As the week progresses, the two routines come together and the kids take to the field and run through the whole roughly seven minute routine in full until they get it as close to perfect as possible.
And following a performance for friends and family sometime this week, the show makes its debut at the first UHS game against Garnet Valley Labor Day weekend.
'You don't have much time to get this thing together,' Litzenberg said. 'We won't do the entire thing that night, and we don't march in uniform Labor Day weekend … but going to have the show done this year at band camp, which is really difficult to do. But the way we're getting stuff done, I think we're going to finish it.'
The biggest obstacle, beyond general attitude and focus issues, is making sure everyone is in the same place at the same time.
'When kids are missing and they show up the next day, you gotta catch them up again. We've got really good attendance now – probably the best we've had in six or seven years,' Litzenberg said. 'But the kids are really cooperative and fun to work with. When it's time to work, it's time to work; when it's time to relax, they get to chill a little out and relax and have a good time.'