In gratitude: It’s great to be a Lynx Marching Lynx take 3rd out of 32 bands at prestigious Youth in Music

Submitted by Jen McKeown

Trombone soloist Camden Coughlin is shown on the big video screen at U.S. Bank Stadium

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Ryley McKeown ran cross country in Brookings Saturday morning and was one of three members of the Marching Lynx that was flown to Minneapolis to compete in the Youth In Music at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Logan Brakke ran cross country in Brookings Saturday morning and was one of three members of the Marching Lynx that was flown to Minneapolis to compete in the Youth In Music at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Todd Dathe stepped up to fly the trio of Marching Lynx members from Brookings following the ESD Cross Country Championships to Minneapolis, where Camden Coughlin, Logan Brakke and Ryley McKeown competed with the band at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Now donning their Marching Lynx unforms to perform their show, “Jackpot!”, student-musicians Logan Brakke (from left), Ryley McKeown and Camden Coughlin are transported via a van from the airport to U.S. Bank Stadium to perform with the band at U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Chicago Bears Sunday.


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Submitted by Jen McKeown


This weekend our sons Ryley, Logan and Camden were able to participate in two extraordinary events thanks to the kindness of the Brandon Valley community. At the beginning of cross country and marching band season, we parents knew they might have to choose between their loves because there were three days where a cross country meet happened on the same day as a band competition. It would be tough, because either way the boys felt they would either let down their running buddies or their band friends. Their cross country team needs their speed to help the team win meets. Their band needs each player in their spot on the field – especially Camden, who is a soloist. 

With the help of the coaches, Tony Thoreson and Mike Putnam, and the band director, Tyler Nettestad, we were able to navigate the first two conflicts. There was time to complete the meets then have a parent or two run them to the marching band competitions several hours away. 

This weekend, however, their Eastern South Dakota cross country race – the ever-important conference meet – ended at noon in Brookings. Their Youth in Music prelims – the biggest marching band competition of the year – started at 2:45 p.m. four hours away in Minneapolis. We were stuck – until we started talking with the coaches, the band director, and Brandon Valley Band Families Inc. – the boosters for the band. 

Coaches Thoreson and Putnam requested an earlier start time of the meet, but were voted down by other schools. 

Mr. Nettestad talked with booster leadership, though, and came back with a solution. There are a few parents who pilot small planes and were willing to step up. It would be tight, but with careful planning, plenty of helping hands, and the grace of God, these great runners could help their team at ESD then help their band at YIM. 

And they did.

Brandon Valley Band Co-President Dave Jones helped organize a mission with a skill that would rival any military operation. 

Friday, the boys handed their instruments off to band booster volunteer Karen Beyer and fellow musicians would help get them put together at the practice field so they were ready to pick up and play. 

They gave their uniforms and overnight bags to us parents, who were driving the getaway car from the meet to the airport. Dave got us permission from Brookings Golf Course to park in the golfers’ lot for a quick getaway. 

Camden, Logan and Ryley helped their team to a seconnd place finish at ESD. Before the varsity race was over, they stepped off the course and into our car. We handed them to Todd Dathe at the airport, who piloted the quick flight to the cities. Todd landed in St. Paul, where band booster volunteers Jeff and Rachel Fode had a van waiting to take the boys to the practice field. They joined the Marching Lynx with an hour to spare and helped the band take second in their class at the prelims and win third out of 32 bands of all classes in the finals. That’s BV’s highest-ever finish.

For their part, the boys ran fast, marched well and played their hearts out. 

For our part, the parents of these extraordinary athlete-musicians want to express our deepest gratitude to all who helped make this happen. The BV community is uniquely special. There are a lot of coaches, band directors, boosters and school districts that don’t allow musicians to be athletes, let alone go to such great lengths to make it possible for students to excel at both. It seems inadequate to simply say thank you, but that’s the phrase that says it best. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It’s great to be a Lynx. 

Brandy, Nick and Logan Brakke

Krista, Daemon and Camden Coughlin 

Jen, Chris and Ryley McKeown 



The Brandon Valley Journal


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