CLAIM TO FAME
Jamey Critchfield, 17, was one of 125 students in the country to be selected as a member of the U.S. Army All-American Band. He will perform during the halftime show of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 5. The game will be broadcast on NBC at 1 p.m.
• School: Senior at Bradley Central High School.
• Siblings: Brothers, Cole, 14, and Will, 12.
• Hobbies: Playing music, volunteering with the Valley View Ruritan Club, Boy Scouts and the youth group at Valley View Baptist Church.
Do you know a child age 17 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in "Talent Show," which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, email staff writer Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 423-757-6205.
For most high school marching bands, the climax of the year is performing in a packed school stadium for the homecoming game. In January, Bradley Central High School senior trombonist Jamey Critchfield will step into a decidedly larger spotlight.
Jamey, 17, was one of 125 students selected in July by the National Association for Music Education and the All American Games and Drum Corps International to be a member of the U.S. All-American Marching Band.
As a member of that ensemble, he will be flown to San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 31, all expenses paid. Five days later, he will take part in a televised performance on NBC during the halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in the Alamodome.
Jamey said he can't overstate the significance of standing in a spotlight being watched by millions of TV viewers.
"It's exclusive and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "This is the biggest show [I've ever played]. There's going to be a lot of people there."
Kris Ware, the band director at Bradley Central High School, where Jamey is a senior, gave the teenager the news of his acceptance during the second week of the school's band camp, held in July. Jamey said he had been obsessively watching his email inbox for news on whether his audition videos had earned him a slot. When Ware greeted him with a congratulatory hug, it was overwhelming.
"I was completely shocked," he said. "I was freaking out."
Ware has been working with Jamey for six years, beginning at Lake Forest Middle School, where Jamey took up the trombone as a sixth-grader. Even at that age, Ware said, Jamey displayed an innate musicality and leadership that have made him an asset to the high school's band program.
"Jamey has always been a really strong player," Ware said. "He always showed promise and stood out from other players from the beginning.
"I'm just really proud of the hard work."
This year, Ware selected Jamey as his band captain, a leadership role roughly on par in prestige and responsibility, if not in celebrity, to a drum major.
A lifelong participant in the Boy Scouts, Jamey has achieved the organization's Life ranking and is awaiting approval to begin work on his Eagle project, the repair of a disused baseball field at Valley View Elementary School.
As part of his senior rank within the Scouts, Jamey said he has must take on the duties of mentoring younger Scouts. That experience has blended well with his duties as a band captain, he said.
"It has been a great experience," Jamey said. "[Being band captain] has helped me develop good relationships with people who are in the band, especially the younger ones."
As he winds down his senior year and prepares to enter college -- he hopes to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga -- Jamey said he will continue to play music, but nothing can replace the musicians he has spent so many years marching alongside.
"I'm not just one of the ones who is in high school and can't wait to get out," he said. "I'm dreading the day graduation comes because I will no longer have this family I have in band.
"It's just going to be very different."
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.