Go inside the rise of The Mighty Mustang M3 Band, which is energizing more than the team

Published 12:38 am Saturday, July 16, 2022

WEST ORANGE – Build it up, they will come.

No, we’re not talking about the movie “Field of Dreams” on this occasion.

It’s all about the Mighty Mustang M3 Band at West Orange-Stark High School.

The Mustang Football program has always risen to amazing heights, but that can definitely be said about the M3 Band these days, too.

Since Band Director Tommy Gladney has been on campus the last several years, the Mighty Mustang Band has grown in numbers, and the overall program is thriving like faithful Mustang fans remember it in years past.

The numbers in the overall program increased two-fold.

And one thing for sure, if you have been to a Mustangs football or basketball home game, Gladney has his students beating to the drums, cranking up the horns and “rocking the house.”

West Orange-Stark Band Director Tommy Gladney has been a tremendous motivator for band students as the M3 Band has been on the rise in his guidance and leadership. (Courtesy Photo)

“Just being part of the M3 Band is so special,” said junior drummer Courtnie Crockett. “To see how far we have come over the years is something special. Mr. Gladney is such a great person. He expects a lot out of us, which is great. He expects us to work hard. When we do, we gain a lot from it. He wants us to have fun and enjoy the experience, which we do.”

Fellow junior Tay’Vondrick Miller gleamed with pride with the same sentiments.

“It’s been a great experience for sure, and I like to call Mr. Gladney, ‘The Bomb,’ because he does so much for us. The interest in band and what we do has really picked up the last couple years. Mr. Gladney has us in more contests like Battle of the Bands and has given us so much more exposure.”

The M3 Band actually hosted a Battle of the Bands at Hooks Stadium in November after competing in them in places like Lake Charles in previous years.

Crockett has enjoyed higher numbers and the precision and unity the M3 Band now plays with.

“We have grown a lot as far as what we can play,” said Crockett. “We can still ‘rock it,’ and that is what we love to do the most. We are more in sync with everything we do. We like to get everyone cranked up at games. We’re really in sync with our drill team and with their dances. What’s even funnier is watching our crowds get more excited, watching them get up and dance and giving us ovations. That wasn’t like that just a few years ago. That extra support, that gives us more pride and more energy.”

Miller is glad to see the school and fan base showing more glee towards the band, especially with the improvement it has made.

“It’s awesome to be appreciated,” said Miller. “It’s cool to see the crowds stand up when we enter the stadium. All of the marching practices we have has paid off. Mr. Gladney has us so organized. He cares so deeply about all of us. He does everything he can to help. He makes sure we do our work in our classrooms and we are more responsible for our actions.”

Crockett and Miller were involved in a Drumline Camp last week. It all gets “real” starting next week. That’s when the M3 Summer Band Camp cranks up and it will last from July 18-29.

“It’s going to be awesome to have everyone here next week,” said Crockett. “We’re looking forward to everyone getting in here so we can start getting everything ready for the year. We’re ready to go to work and we can’t wait until those Friday nights.”