Celebrating with Super Bowl champs
There is nothing like a parade . . . unless you’re in it. There is nothing like a parade . . . unless you’re in it and it’s a parade celebrating a big win, and a Super Bowl win is about as big as anyone can imagine. That is exactly the situation former Tyler County resident Corey Hamrick found himself in a few weeks ago when the Super Bowl champion Ravens returned to their home city after their defeat of the San Francisco 49’ers in the biggest game of the year.
Hamrick, who has been a member of Baltimore’s Marching Ravens Band since 2006, said marching in the Super Bowl victory celebration through the streets of Baltimore is something he is never likely to forget. “It was overwhelming,” he said. “That’s the only way I can describe it. I’ve been in some big parades, including the Macy’s Day Parade and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City, but this one was something different. People were absolutely everywhere, they were 10 or more deep on the sidewalks and in the streets, they were at the windows in buildings, they were on buildings, on parking garages, and there were thousands of cameras with flashes going off throughout the entire parade route. It was an awesome feeling.”
The rally and victory celebration for the approximately 200,000 fans expected was scheduled at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore just after the Ravens team and coaching staff returned home after the 34-31 victory over the 49’ers in Super Bowl XLVII, and it was only fitting that the Marching Ravens led the way for coach John Harbaugh, Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, linebacker Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and the rest.
“This team and this band is pretty special to the people of Baltimore,” Hamrick said. “They love their Ravens and they love the band. They promote it, and they come out and show their pride and support us whenever we perform. That’s saying something for a city of this size.”
The Marching Ravens are only one of two full marching bands of teams in the NFL (the other being the band of the Washington Redskins), and the ownership and management of the team supports their band, the largest musical organization associated with the NFL, to the fullest. “They are very, very supportive of the band,” Hamrick said. “From practice time and space, performances, uniforms, you name it. They support us fully. And that’s really nice, you know. It’s nice to know you’re appreciated.”
This band is an all volunteer organization committed to bringing quality musical entertainment and a “traditional football atmosphere” to all Ravens home games. The band is comprised of more than 300 musicians, a flag line, color guard and support crew. The band performs at pre-game and halftimes of every Ravens home game during the football season, and makes special appearances throughout the year by participating in local events always promoting the Ravens and Baltimore pride.
A 1995 graduate of Tyler Consolidated High School and 2002 graduate of Fairmont University, Hamrick is at present time the band director at Hedgesville High School in Berkeley County. He made the decision to try out for the Marching Ravens when he received a recruitment letter inviting both him and his students to audition for the band. “I thought, this may be interesting,” he said. “So I auditioned, made the band, and the rest is history.”
This year, the Hedgesville band director marched with the Ravens along with two current students, and two Eagle alumni, past students.
Since April 2006, Hamrick has made the hour-and-a-half drive to Baltimore every Wednesday evening for a three-hour practice with the Ravens band. Starting out as a band member, he soon worked his way up in the organization and now is honored to have earned the title of assistant music director. Writing the majority of the drill formations the band uses in their pre-game and halftime performances is one of the things he is most proud of in his tenure with the group. “It’s really cool to see something you wrote being performed in front of thousands of people,” he said. “Who would have ever thought it?”
When asked how long he plans to continue with the band, the 30-something high school band director said he was unsure.
“Every Wednesday I ask myself, do I really want to take that hour-and-a-half drive today? And every Wednesday, I get in the car and I go. So, I guess the answer to that question is, when I finally get tired of the drive, I guess I’ll give it up. But then again, if I hadn’t been doing it for so long I would never have had the opportunity to be a part of so much this band has allowed me to.”
Ironically, this is almost the same answer he gives when asked how could he, a life long 49’er fan, support the very team playing against them in the biggest game of the year. “It was tough,” he said. “But then I thought, will the 49’ers let me play in their band for the Super Bowl? The answer, of course, was no. They don’t have a band. The decision was easy after that.”
Of course the decision was easy, because music has always played an important part in this young man’s life. He went from playing in the band as a Sistersville Tiger, to a Tyler Consolidated Knight, to a Fairmont Falcon, a Hedgesville Eagle and now as a Baltimore Raven . . . and he knows the possibilities of representing future teams and mascots are limitless. “For my appreciation of music, I have to thank my mom (Becki Ferrebee) and Wayne Smith,” he said. “I have to thank them for making and appreciating music such an important part of my life.”
As for arguably the most famous trophy in sports history, the Vince Lombardi trophy, the football team toted it home to Baltimore to show off to their fans. They hoisted it and kissed it and shined it up with the sleeves of their jackets . . . Hamrick said he only got to see it from afar, but that was enough. After all, he was with the band who led the way to bring it home.