Golden Hillmen Band takes a stand

Supplying school spirit

By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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The band director had left for Thanksgiving vacation and nobody expected that Placer High’s football team would be traveling to Oakdale for the playoffs. But a court order restored Placer’s playoff game and two resourceful Golden Hillmen Marching Band members organized a pep band on short notice to travel to Oakdale to support the Hillmen. Juniors Kristen Soejoto and Molly Fries were the two band members who organized 24 other musicians for the Oakdale trip, after contacting Dave Lawrenson, Placer High School music director, for permission. Band members had figured they had already played at the last football game this year. But they were ready to play on short notice. When asked what inspired Soejoto to call Lawrenson, who was out of town, she answered right away during an interview at Placer High School Wednesday after band rehearsal. “It was everybody’s idea that we should go to the playoff game,” Soejoto said. “After the playoff game was approved, I thought we should do it.” After 26 band members were given approval, they had their own practice session and made plans to car pool to Oakdale. “We had a lot of fun going to the Oakdale game,” said Fries, who was there belting out high notes on first trumpet. The Placer High band also traveled to Dixon last week to help inspire the large crowd of Hillmen fans in attendance and the team. And the band is fired up to play again Friday. Soejoto, who plays flute and piccolo, is also the drum major, when the Golden Hillmen Band performs on the field. At Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game against Whitney for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship at Folsom High School, both the Placer and Whitney bands will be limited to playing in the stands, due to California Interscholastic Federation rules. “There will be no halftime show because CIF rules don’t allow it at a championship game,” Lawrenson said. “We’ll be up in the stands playing for this game. There are no performances of any kind at championship games, which is what we were told by the CIF.” Despite the rule, Placer’s band, directed by Soejoto, will by playing their hearts out for the Hillmen from the grandstand. That’s OK with sophomore Lauren Strella, who can wail away on either alto or baritone saxophone. She’s definitely been inspired to play for the Hillmen during their playoff drive. “It’s been really exciting,” Strella said. “Last year, they obviously had a bad season, but this year with them going to the playoffs it’s been really fun to support them and cheer them on.” Strella said Placer’s band will be playing the same songs they’ve done all year long, including two of their favorites – “Carry on My Wayward Son” and “Louie, Louie.” And don’t forget, the “Placer Fight Song” is played after every touchdown. “I hope the team feels good about having us there,” Fries said. “I know a couple of football players told us they’ve heard us and feel good about us being there.” For band director Lawrenson, it’s been a great experience supporting the football team this season. “When the team is winning, the band is always more attentive,” Lawrenson said. “Winning is always better than losing. It’s an honor for us to play for the football team and such large crowds in the postseason.” The Journal’s Bruce Warren can be reached at, or comment online at