A privilege to participate

For a quarter century, Honda has been a consistent supporter of HBCUs. Issac Ward (far right in photo), a senior from Alcorn State University, has shared this first-person account of his experience participating in two of our unique HBCU programs – Honda Battle of the Bands and Honda Campus All Star Challenge.

In 2016, I had the privilege of participating in both Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB) and Honda Campus All Star Challenge (HCASC). It is rare for a student to participate in both events, so I consider this to be a major accomplishment. This was my second HCASC national tournament in three years and my first HBOB.

In addition to participating in these events, I was a leader in both. I was captain for HCASC and I served as the Baritone Co-Section Leader in the Alcorn State Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band. Both were amazing opportunities.

I was a bit nervous as I was keeping my section in check for the HBOB and leading my team in competition at HCASC. As time went by, the nerves were replaced by excitement and determination.

Honda Battle of the Bands had a mix of pageantry, enthusiasm and fun. Every practice leading up to the event was strenuous, but necessary to put on a show. This event also allowed me to engage with the other band programs. For example, we practiced with each other in Mass Band and kept in touch when the practices ended. The Georgia Dome was packed with people waiting to see HBCU Bands perform. It was an amazing experience to be in front of a large audience and watch the other bands perform as well. It was truly one of the highlights of my life.

I have been an HCASC participant since I was a freshman. I loved the excitement of being announced as part of the Great 48 Teams. Our team had an excellent showing at the National Qualifying Tournament and we were confident we would do well. We constantly drilled one another on anything and everything to prepare. I looked forward to seeing players I knew throughout my HCASC years and also meeting new friends. The atmosphere was just like I had remembered: friendly, competitive and awe-inspiring.

As team captain, I was determined to perform well. Although our team failed to reach the Sweet 16, I am proud of our efforts. After the preliminary games I took solace knowing that Honda HQ, Disneyland and the Honda Student Center were still on the itinerary. I still have one last opportunity to grab that elusive championship and I intend to do so next year. But if not, I am happy knowing that I have gained many friends for life.

Honda realizes what HBCU students, educators and supporters have long known. We are young, educated and successful students looking to make our mark in the world. I applaud Honda for giving HBCUs an outlet to showcase their talents with Honda Campus All Star Challenge and Honda Battle of the Bands.

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