A Peachy Ending for the Band

Crusaders garner multiple Peach Bowl band awards
Posted on 01/04/2024

Their journey began in July. Sixty-two students met for the first practice in the Bishop Heelan parking lot, preparing to march in the Dec. 30 Peach Bowl pregame show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. 

From beginning to end, the journey was a successful one. 

Bishop Heelan’s band students won multiple first, second and third place awards in competitions during the week in Atlanta. On Saturday, the Marching Crusaders stood on the field pregame and performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” before the football game of Penn State versus the University of Mississippi. 

The jazz band earned first place with its mid-week performance, while senior Cahill Kirkpatrick earned “Outstanding Drum Major” during the field competition. CLICK HERE to watch the jazz band performance!

“I had a feeling we could go in and compete with anyone,” Kirkpatrick said. “We had to go and execute and we did at a high level. To be recognized as one of the best drum majors in the country, there’s no better feeling.” 

The concert band and Marching Crusaders placed second in their respective fields, while in the parade category, Bishop Heelan earned third.

“They did an excellent job from the moment they got on the bus until we got home (on New Year’s Eve),” said Jeana Larson, Bishop Heelan director of bands. “They were on top of things and focused on doing what was needed. Just walking in the stadium and they didn’t let that daunt them at all.” 

The Peach Bowl was the first time Heelan had performed at a New Year’s Six bowl game, and the memories they made will stay with them for a lifetime. 

“Honestly, it was a very life changing experience,” Heelan junior Lucy Anderson said. “We didn’t know what to expect. It’s really just incredible that we were able to represent our school and other Catholic schools.” 

Many donors and supporters helped the Crusaders make it to Atlanta. Whether it was private donations or the many fundraisers held, Larson appreciated everyone’s help. 

“We couldn’t have made this trip without our friends and family,” she said. “They really did rise to the occasion above and beyond.”

As for the football game, Mississippi defeated Penn State, 38-25.

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