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Panther Band drummer fulfills dream by performing with Drum Corps International

Sebastian Gonzales: ‘The whole thing was a spectacular experience’

Ashley Guel, Panther Growls staff member

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Lufkin High School senior Sebastian Gonzales, far left, participates in Drum Corps International this past summer. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Gonzales)

Lufkin High School senior Sebastian Gonzales always saw participating in Drum Corps International as a far-out dream. That changed when LHS hired Jonathan Aviles as the Panther Band’s assistant band director and percussion instructor/coordinator before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Lufkin High School senior Sebastian Gonzales, far left, participates in Drum Corps International this past summer. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Gonzales)

Gonzales this summer was named to DCI’s Guardians Drum and Bugle Corps. He said Aviles had inspired him to audition, but that it wasn’t easy.

“When I was auditioning for snare, a total of 120 auditioned for snare and only nine made it,” Gonzales said. “However, I was put on tenors, where there were about 20 auditionees.”

Auditioning was not the only obstacle for Gonzales.

“I was very timid going in, being the only performer who had no experience marching corps, since Lufkin is a military style band.”

Gonzales was the youngest person on the tenor line and the third youngest on the drumline. Gonzales, being the one with the least amount of experience, practiced for months leading into the auditions and throughout the two-month-long experience.

All of his hard work paid off. Gonzales returned home the night before starting his senior year at Lufkin High School with the highest score in Guardians history in both the corps and drumline placement. He also returned home with memories that would last him a lifetime.

Lufkin High School senior Sebastian Gonzales, left, hugs Drum Corps International percussion leader Phil Martinez at the end of the 2018 DCI tour this past summer. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Gonzales)

“My favorite memory had to have been either when I was surprised with a birthday gift by the whole drumline during rehearsal, or when Phil Martinez, the percussion captain, hugged me at finals night, and we both started tearing up.” Gonzales said. “The whole thing was a spectacular experience.”

Drum Corps International, a non-profit organization formed in 1972, gives opportunities for musicians age 13-22 to engage in competition, education and entertainment, and to promote individual growth.

“After fulfilling that dream of marching drum corps,” Gonzales said, “I will only push myself harder to keep improving.”

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Panther Band drummer fulfills dream by performing with Drum Corps International