Sports fans watching the U.S. Army All American Bowl live on television tomorrow may be surprised to see not only the very best in high school gridiron action, but also their athletic All-American counterparts in marching music as well.

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl, produced by SportsLink, is the premier high school football game in the nation, featuring the country's top 80 high school senior football players and played annually since 2000. Until this year, All-American honors and accolades had been reserved for standout football players, but through the efforts MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the prestigious designation was expanded to include 90 of the finest high school senior marching musicians from throughout the nation.

Receiving the same level of recognition as their athlete counterparts, marching band members were selected and honored this fall after an extensive application process. The U.S. Army All-American Marching Band is the ultimate validation of their accomplishments as student musicians.

Having all of their airfare, lodging and meals covered, band members representing 27 states arrived in San Antonio, Texas earlier this week to begin rehearsals. Since Wednesday, they have been working with some of the top music educators in the nation to put together the musical selections and drill forms that will comprise their halftime performance.

The hand-selected group of participants is a highly motivated group, many who are the leaders, band presidents or drum majors of their school's programs.

The performance we're putting together with the students in two and a half days is what most bands will typically do in a two-week band camp.

"The performance we're putting together with the students in two and a half days is what most bands will typically do in a two-week band camp," said U.S. Army All-American Marching Band Operations Manager Brian Prato. "The talent level is exceptional. Without a doubt, we have some of the very best marching band students in the country here this weekend."

The U.S. Army All-American Marching Band will be joined in their performance by a 30 student "All-Texas" color guard whose selection was coordinated by Drum Corps International, auditioning from Texas high schools. The color guard, along with the band, will be uniformed through the generous support of DeMoulin Bros. and Co. Several other of DCI's corporate partners assisted the effort. Director's Showcase, Inc., provided performance footwear for the color guard, while others have also stepped onto the Alamodome field to help make this elite group of high school marching band students a reality.

Until the big game, this talented group of band students will be hard at work perfecting their show and doing what they do best. "They want to be good," said Prato. "They keep asking, 'What can we do better? Can we rehearse more?' The atmosphere at rehearsal has been very professional, and the performers have been well prepared prior to their arrival."

Prato, like the majority of the band's staff members, currently works with a DCI corps and has drum corps experience in his background. And among the 93 students selected for this year's Army All-American band are several who have had previous experience with Drum Corps International units. Among those students are: Drew Guy of Southaven, Miss. (Bluecoats); Alyssa Madeira of Romeoville, Ill. (Glassmen); Benjamin Pouncey of Elgin, S.C. (The Cadets); Stephen Reece of Marietta, Ga. (Spirit from JSU); Derrick Shannon of Blue Island, Ill. (Phantom Regiment) and Aaron Spevak of Yorkville, Ill. (Colts).

Don't miss the Army All-American marching band on NBC as the halftime performance, tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 5, at 1 p.m. EST.

View profiles of all band members and more on

Apply to become a member of the 2009 All-American Marching Band on

View all U.S. Army All-American Marching Band sponsors.