Story by Garth Snow. Photo by Bridgett Hernandez

The Homestead High School marching band created “Of Fire and Ice” to the roar of fans and the approval of the judges, and claimed the state title Nov. 4 in Indianapolis.

Props that represented glaciers rotated to become fire mountains, with lights on either side to complement the effect. The props sent bright yellow “flames” skyward.

The championship trophy is the sixth for the Spartan Alliance, which has reached the 10-band ISSMA finals every year since 1987.

Band director Brad Wadkins addressed staff, parents and students from the back step of a semi trailer as midnight descended on the Lucas Oil Stadium parking lot. As buses and band trailers loaded up and headed for every corner of the Hoosier State, hundreds of students and dozens of adults in Homestead blue surrounded the last trailer to call it a night. Old and new friends shared hugs and offered handshakes. “Wow, there are a lot of people here,” Wadkins said as he approached the microphone.

Wadkins thanked alumni, volunteers, parents, staff, mentors and family, and the 274 young people who danced, skated, moved in precision, played in place or seemed to flutter above hash-marked fields from August to November. “And last, but certainly not least, our students,” Wadkins said.

“We stressed two very important things for them this season. [First] the championship mentality, and that was about how they go about everything they do from day to day, not about winning the championship but about the championship mentality, and they really bought into that,” Wadkins said. “The other was to believe, to believe in themselves and believe in each other, and that showed through tonight in their performance. Their performance was outstanding.”

In his first year as band director, Wadkins knows the Homestead “We Believe” tradition. He joined the staff as assistant director in 1994 and teamed with director Steve Barber to stress musical excellence and the sportsmanship that the Homestead community exemplifies at the close of each Indiana State School Music Association Class A state finals. Yet another group of Homestead loyal honored that tradition this season, cheering for all 10 finalist bands as they processed from the band field and through the stadium tunnels and home. Homestead fans cheered for the 10th place Indianapolis Ben Davis Marching Giants and then the Carroll Charger Marching Pride. “Thank you, Homestead,” called voices from the 9th-place Carroll band. Spartan alumni in gold and blue cheered for Brownsburg, Fishers, Lake Central, Concord, Lawrence Central, Center Grove, and for the state runner-up Marching Knights of Castle High School in Newburgh.

Then the Homestead guard, brass, woodwinds and percussionists, and adult designers and advisers passed beneath a banner proclaiming another Homestead canon: “Homestead. There is No Finish Line.”

“One final thing,” Wadkins said in his semi-trailer remarks. “We’ve met some really special people that have encouraged me throughout the year and I really appreciate that. Mr. Barber has been awesome the entire year, somebody to lean on as a resource — a great friend.” In an email, Wadkins further described his predecessor as a “legendary band director from Homestead High School” and as a “supportive asset and adviser this year.”

He also thanked his wife, Suzanne Wadkins, his “biggest fan and encourager.”

Wadkins also thanked Donna Ransom, a former band parent at Homestead, for being a “spiritual mentor and encourager.”

The Spartans alsol marched in the Bands of America Grand National Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium, Nov. 8-11. One hundred bands from Florida to Hawaii marched Thursday and Friday. Homestead was among the 37 bands advancing to the Saturday semifinals.

Also reaching the ISSMA state finals from Fort Wayne was Concordia Lutheran High School. The Marching Cadets placed fifth in Class C.