May 19, 2005
DougAlbany --- Teenagers often lead busy lives, especially those so involved in extra-curricular activities, such as sports and band, and too young to drive themselves to practices.
Academics, like math, rarely get as much energy invested as those after-school classes get.
Take a math class at Radium Middle School for example. Few teenagers look forward to math class anytime during the school year. "Was there multiplication in there?" asks Haley Husted to one of her classmates. The math teacher included statistics in the last days of class. "I don't understand it. I was just there," says Husted, who certainly looks forward to attending school, especially on days she has band.
"Music is a way of life for me. Without music, life would be a boring place," says Husted, who understands music much better than math. The music seems to come naturally for her. "I picked it up kind of easy," says Husted, sitting in the school's band room with several other teenagers getting ready to play various instruments.
Husted plays a special instrument, a family heirloom, a 30 year-old saxophone her mother once played that Haley proudly clams as her own. "This is Susie, my symphonic saxophone," says Haley, as she kisses the saxophone more than twice as old as she is.
She dearly loves not only playing, but also marching. Her Radium Springs Middle School band often marches in parades. The band director at Monroe Comprehensive High School invites her to play with their marching band.
That makes two bands, when most band students only march with one group. She auditioned and was selected for an arena football team band-the South Georgia Wildcats of Albany. All three bands require her to practice for hours, and to complicate an already busy schedule, she's too young to drive.
How does she keep her commitments? "You've got to learn to make time for things you do that you love so much," says Haley who has the philosophy of someone much older and wiser than many 14-year olds.
She is the youngest member to play in the country's only Arena Football League band, and it has its advantages. "I get special treatment," says Husted. Some fans get special treatment, sitting close to the band, having the best musical seats in the house.
The band sits in section 123 of the Albany-James H. Gray Civic Center for each home game, where she loves to march and play in a precision half-time show. "Six hours to rehearse," says Husted about an eight-minute performance where she questions herself with every step. "Whether I was on the beat or not, whether I was on the right foot. I was kind of nervous," says Husted.
Not a one of the sixty-six hundred Arena Football fans noticed, or the 60 other musicians noticed her nervousness as they marched to the sound of several drummers. Husted started playing saxophone three years ago.