When Beau Bunnell made the varsity football team last year as a junior, he had a choice to make – play football or continue in the drumline.
He chose not to choose. He decided to do both.
“That was the year that the band decided that 7 a.m. practices were going to become standard,” Beau said. “I had 12-hour school days. I had band before school and football after school and then homework. It was tiring.”
But the hard work paid off. As a senior this year, Beau becomes what is thought to be the first person in Wylie history to march in the UIL State Marching Competition AND start in the UIL Class 4A Football State Championship.
That accomplishment is not something that Beau would have dreamed of back in 6th grade when he started out playing percussion in the Wylie band because drums were cool. And he certainly would not have dreamed of it in 7th grade when he started playing Bulldog football.
“Back then, I was rocking the C Team,” he said. “C Team center right there. Back then I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I enjoyed the people in football, but I wasn’t good at it.”
He continued with both football and band through Junior High. When he was a freshman, his drum instructor at the time told him that he could not do drumline and football. Football players occasionally stick with band, but being in the drumline takes extra practice and lots more work.
About that same time, Beau began to get much better at football.
“Freshmen year is when I started moving past people who were ahead of me,” he said. “I thought, wow, I’m getting better. I kept working and eventually it worked out for me. The hard work and support from family and friends paid off.”
Once he made varsity, he decided that he did not want to choose between the two. Band directors Mike and Jeannie Lunney supported his decision.
“The Lunney’s were very supportive because their son (Austin Lunney) did the same thing,” he said.
This year, Beau stepped in as the starting right tackle for the Bulldogs. He decided once again to juggle band and football.
“I kept telling mysef, you made it this far,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it. It’s great.”
Beau made most band practices, but he was not able to march with the band at halftime or do any band activities during games. He did, however, grab a drum and play with the drumline during pep rallies, and he got to play in the front ensemble of the band during marching competitions – including the State Marching Competition in the Alamodome in San Antonio in November.
“It was insane walking in there,” he said. “That place is huge. You don’t expect it. You’re struck by it when you walk in. I caught myself looking around thinking, this is cool.”
The Wylie band did not advance to the finals, but they did get to watch some of the other bands perform.
“The other bands were insane,” he said. “Their marching was just flawless. It was – wow.”
Beau followed that experience up by playing in the state championship game in AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Several other band members also play football, but they were on the JV this year. They got to travel with the football team and be on the sideline of the state championship game.
Beau hopes they will continue to do both next year when they are on varsity.
“There’s more people trying it,” he said. “I think people should. I don’t like having to pick one.”
Beau hopes to be in the drumline or play football at either ACU or Texas Tech next year, and this time, he expects the choice to be made for him.
“I don’t think that I’m big enough for a D1 lineman, so I am trying out for band,” he said. “If I have to choose … honestly if I have a shot to play D1 football, I am going to take the D1 football.”
But Beau doesn’t expect to get that shot and playing football is not as important to him as going to a school where he can be in a good electrical or mechanical engineer program.
“The school is definitely more important than the football,” he said.