Fort Mill Times

NaFo guitarist will jam with U.S. Army All-American Band

Promoters of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl ought to know the way to Nation Ford High School by now: Chris Colon just gave them another reason to make the trip.

Colon, a tenor-sax and electric-guitar player for the Nation Ford marching band, is the latest Falcon named to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. He will play during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 in San Antonio.

The nationwide band has 125 members, who will play alongside top high school football players nationwide playing in the game.

“It’s just a crazy opportunity I was lucky enough to get,” Colon said.

Prospective band members submit tapes of performance, along with recommendation letters telling why they exhibit Army values like loyalty and respect.

Colon will perform on guitar. Martin Dickey, band director at Nation Ford, is a past director with the All-American Marching Band and said he can’t recall if it’s nine or 10 members now who have come from Nation Ford.

“Last year was the first year we haven’t had one,” Dickey said during an announcement Oct. 10. “One of our past members is on (a promotional) poster.”

Nation Ford Principal Beverley Bowman said she sees the string of Falcon players as more than coincidence. “It’s tough being a Nation Ford band student,” she told an auditorium full of them during the recent announcement. “You put in many, many long hours. I leave at the end of the day and you’re still here. I come in on Saturdays and you’re here.”

Former Nation Ford band members weren’t the only influences on Colon’s latest accomplishment, or even the nearest. His father, Tony Colon, played the clarinet in the 1988 version of the All-American band, then sponsored by McDonald’s.

Tony Colon also served in the Army, making Chris Colon’s selection doubly special.

Chris Colon has “been dreaming about stuff like this for a long time,” Tony Colon said.

Tony Colon played in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but never a bowl game. He did play in a Super Bowl halftime show in 1987 but says he never played in a performance with the intensity of what local band students now tackle with regional and national competitions.

“It wasn’t this exciting back in the day,” Tony Colon said.

Chris Colon thanked his school, classmates and “all-American parents” Oct. 10 for helping him on his way toward what he hopes will be a career in music education. He’d like to lead his own band sometime, he said.

It’s a long way from sifting through scrapbooks of dad’s old band accomplishments.

“He’s a man that I look up to and a man I model myself after every day,” Chris Colon said.

Chris Colon played two years in the band at Fort Mill High School, even serving as drum major, before a family move put him at Nation Ford.

Receiving the honor on the day of the Fort Mill-Nation Ford Milltown Showdown on the football field, Chris Colon said, he felt confident making two predictions: “The band is going to sound amazing,” he said, “and the Falcons are going to win.”