By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It was hard to tell who was more excited about Tupelo High School student Cullen McBride’s invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band: his fellow musicians in the marching band, or McBride himself.
His bandmates roared with applause when he walked on stage and gave him two standing ovations at Thursday’s announcement at the high school’s performing arts center. McBride will perform with the All-American Marching Band at the U.S. Army’s All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in January. Each year the Army selects 90 of the best high school football players from across the country to compete in the bowl, and brings on the best 125 marching band and color guard members to be in the band. McBride is the only Mississippi musician invited to join the band. The bowl will air on NBC at noon Jan. 7.
“I have a lot of support here,” said McBride, who plays the mellophone. “All of the hard work I’ve done, this makes it worth it.”
McBride was celebrated by Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr., City Council President Fred Pitts and Congressman Alan Nunnelee.
“The hard work, the discipline, the teamwork you display in the band hall will serve you well in life,” Nunnelee told McBride. “Continue that excellence, and your community will continue to celebrate you.”
McBride received a special jacket, cap and official invitation from Maj. Walt Vinzant, assistant professor at the University of Mississippi.
“It takes a special person to be a soldier, just as it takes a special musician to be in the All-American Band,” Vinzant said.
After graduation, McBride plans to study at the University of Southern Mississippi to become a band director.
Notable NFL alumni of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl’s football teams include Tim Tebow, Reggie Bush and Michael Oher.