Ringgold Marching Tigers stay on-key, upbeat after devastating - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ringgold Marching Tigers stay on-key, upbeat after devastating tornado

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RINGGOLD, CATOOSA COUNTY,  GA. (WRCB)-- How do you build to that crescendo," Ringgold High band director Robin Christian asks his pupils. "Came out of the book of experience, that nobody has."

Christian has been conducting the Marching Tigers for a quarter-century.

"This is the greatest challenge because you're in unfamiliar territory," he says.

Technically, all the Marching Tigers are freshmen this year. They've 'borrowed' cross-county Heritage High School's band room and practice fields after April's tornadoes blew away much of Ringgold High.

"I didn't want to believe it, it hit home," band captain Lindsey Chernicky says.

The instruments and uniforms are okay.

"But one of our trailers was picked up and thrown almost 100 feet," Assistant Director Tracey Wright says. "Looks horrible now."

Replacing all three trailers will cost $20-25,000, Christian estimates. And it's not optional. By tradition, Ringgold's band plays every 'away' game. And thanks to the tornado damage, every game will be 'away' this season.

Ringgold chose 'New York' and 'Broadway' as the themes for this year's marching competition. Ironic, given that costs have forced the band to cancel a trip to Manhattan to honor the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

But band students see a bigger picture.

We're thankful for the opportunity to be somewhere, to be together, and to be able to make music again," Chernicky says. "The challenges are far more difficult that any drill."

"Starting the school year much later, not getting a tour of the school, it's gonna be different; crazy," freshman Alyssa Eilbrey says.

Ultimately, they see "band" as about bonding.

"The band kids were the first people to offer help in the community," Christian says. "We can't control the things that happen to us as people. What we can control, is how we react to it."

"I see most of it coming within all of us," Chernicky says. "Each one of us. It shows our character and our hearts, and just how much we care about our community and our band."

Students pay $500 yearly to participate in Ringgold band activities. The cost of putting 175 musicians, color guard (flag & rifle corps) and chaperones 'on the road' for competitions, concerts and away games can run to $170,000 yearly, Christian says.

A country music star is lending his talents to help members of the Ringgold High Band. Thursday, Josh Turner is performing at the Davis Cattle Company.

Tickets range from $20 to $30.

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