Marching Skyhawks making lots of noise

Published 12:44 pm Tuesday, December 25, 2018

WEST POINT — The Point University Marching Skyhawks band may be in its infancy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not making plenty of noise.

The marching band recently performed at the National Christmas Parade in Nashville, where it was depicted in a Dodge Ram commercial in November. Despite its size compared to other bands competing, the band has competed in several state and international competitions since its inception, according to Point University Band Director Joshua Boyd.

The band started in 2015 with a goal to just have a drum line or a small group to play during halftime of athletic competitions. Boyd said the band ended up with 32 students the first year and today the band is marching with 80.

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“The growth beats what an institution of our size should be,” Boyd said.

He said this year was the first group of graduating students. Those students competed in the Georgia Indoor Percussion Association competition in the spring of 2016 — the first academic year of the program — and took first place in Class A. Boyd said Class A is for smaller bands.

The following year, Boyd said the band self-promoted itself to the open class division — a class where any band can join — and has won for the past two years.

Now, the band competes in the open class in the Winter Guard International competition, which showcases bands throughout the world.

Boyd said the group has developed a national reputation, which is how it was invited to apply for the national parade in Nashville.

“Most schools who have only existed as long as we have are still just trying to get a field show together,” he said.

For a band to play in a national parade like the one in Nashville, Boyd said there is an application process, but the band needs to be invited to apply.

Boyd said when he came to Point University in 2014, he couldn’t envision the type of success the band has had right away.

“I had no idea this would happen,” he said. “Statistically, this shouldn’t have happened.”

While considering whether or not a marching band could even be feasible at Point University, Boyd said there were several consultants brought in to make sure it was a good idea.

“Point is a Christian school, but it is also a very business-minded school,” he said.

The original plan was to have 32 students in the band during the first four years, but there were between 32 and 35 students in the first year. Boyd said it was a team effort from the university and several high school visits to establish the school as a name to prospective students.

“Point University wasn’t that well known because it just changed its name from Atlanta Christian College and in the music world it was basically unknown,” Boyd said.

He said he found that bringing students to the campus and showing off the city of West Point was a big factor in getting kids to enroll.

Based on the success of the Nashville parade, Boyd said the band has been contacted by a few other national parades.

In the winter, the Marching Skyhawks changes its name to “Genesis” for competitions. Additionally, the Point Winds and the Point Indoor Percussion groups compete separately.

Boyd said the band will continue to grow, as most major universities have a couple hundred students in their bands. One major perk about Point, Boyd said, is that all students in the band are on scholarship, similar to athletics.

He said the university is completely behind the band, and it makes for a special relationship.

“The university is completely behind what we do,” he said. “That is what makes me want to teach here.”