Friend de Coup wins title at OrlandoFriend de Coup director Chris Miller said it best. “When you (compete) to the best of your abilities,” he said Sunday, “you end up reaping the awards.” And that’s exactly what the Mitchell High School show choir, Friend de Coup, did Saturday, when the 70-member group won the Grand Champion title at the FAME National Show Choir contest at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fla.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
Friend de Coup director Chris Miller said it best.
“When you (compete) to the best of your abilities,” he said Sunday, “you end up reaping the awards.”
And that’s exactly what the Mitchell High School show choir, Friend de Coup, did Saturday, when the 70-member group won the Grand Champion title at the FAME National Show Choir contest at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fla.
“It was a big victory for our kids, a big victory for the program and a huge victory for our community and school district,” Miller said.
The national title is the first for Friend de Coup since 2000. That year the show choir, under the direction of Jeff Gemar, claimed the top prize in Branson, Mo.
Besides Grand Champion, Friend de Coup walked away with Best Show Design, Best Band, Best Choreography and Best Vocals at the competition.
The group competed against six other show choirs in its division Saturday morning. Mitchell ended the first round in first; the top four advanced to the finals that evening.
Waiting for the Grand Champion announcement was difficult for Miller and the students.
“As they were announcing each one of those big awards, I kept thinking ‘Did we win the big one? Did we win the big one?’ ” he said.
The announcer paused before announcing the Grand Champion in Mitchell’s division and said there was a twist in the results. Friend de Coup had tied for first with reigning champions from Center Grove High School in Indiana. To break the tie, the judges’ scores were ranked. Three of the five judges scored MHS in first place.
“That’s as close and down to the wire as the competition gets,” Miller said.
Grove has won a national FAME title every year since 2002.
Miller attributes the Orlando win to several factors: vocals, staging and dancing.
“When you have a total package where all things are working well, that’s when you start winning competitions. This was a really great opportunity for our program, and it’s a record-breaking year with us winning four grand champions in one season,” he said.
Junior singer/dancer Jacob Kulm describes Friend de Coup’s national title as a “blessing.”
“Most of us coming into Florida expected us to do well, but winning Grand Champion just blew our minds,” Kulm said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Freshman percussionist Chris Sejnoha agreed, adding that the show choir’s improvements really added to the group’s season-end results.
“We kept adding a couple things here and there and improving slightly after each competition. We built up so much that we ended up winning nationals,” Sejnoha said.
Friend de Coup was named Grand Champion in its season-opener at the University of Lincoln-Nebraska, as well as at the Quad State Showcase in Sioux City, Iowa, and “Clash of the Titans” in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The group took third place at the “Swinging on the River” contest in Hastings, Neb.
Other awards this season included: multiple best band, choreography and vocal awards, a people’s choice award, and stage crew and tech crew honors at the Sioux City and Council Bluff contests.
“This is just another testament to the great kids, parents and staff we have with the show choir. It takes a whole village to make a whole program. I think we proved that this weekend,” Miller said.