GC: Cuero high school student serves as drum major and starting center

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:16 a.m.

By Jessica Rodrigo/jrodrigo@vicad.com

When Billy Rodriguez Jr. started sixth grade at Cuero Intermediate School in 2006, little did he know he was going to begin a routine that would follow him throughout his pre-college career and possibly into college.

Some kids are nervous about beginning a new frontier and are often too worried about whether they are going to fit in to try new things, but for the Cuero High School junior, he took on band and football.

An introduction

Growing up in Cuero, Billy's dad and brother both played instruments, filling the house with melodies and rhythms from the guitar and drums.

Given the choice of shop class or music in sixth grade, he opted for the music class.

"I wasn't much of a shop person," he offered when asked about his decision. "And I love music."

That same year, the school offered a new course in lieu of P.E.

"They offered pre-athletics, which was like P.E., but instead we would spend more time on the main sports. It was very specialized in what you wanted to do," the16-year-old said.

A few days after the start of the year, a friend volunteered him to play center during a game of football and he is now the starting center for the Cuero Gobblers varsity football team.

As fate would have it, a scheduling conflict with band changed him from a member of the wind instrument family to a member the brass instrument family. Ever since that moment, Billy has played the trombone.

Second-year drum major

Having music in the family, it was only natural that Billy would become a candidate for drum major.

He said his then-competition, Ruby Boone, now-girlfriend put up a good opposition for the position for drum major. Boone, 18, who is now a student at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, was a three-year drum major before graduating and helped Billy take her place leading the band.

"She has made me a really strong person, especially with my leadership with band," the second-year drum major explained. "I am hoping to follow her as a third-year drum major as well."

Billy added that his girlfriend has been a huge help in his high school career.

"She's helped me out a lot since she's older, and she can help me out with college, too," he said.

Under the title of drum major, Billy is Cuero High School band director Gary Owens' right-hand man.

"I basically do anything and everything the band director wants me to," he said. "I'll stay after band practice, pick up the band hall, help people (play songs), or I'll tutor people on how to march."

Billy's parents have spent a fair share of their time waiting for their son in the parking lot after practice, to find that he is helping others perfect the art of music.

"He's always down there helping someone," his father said. "We would always be waiting for him and waiting for him. But now he drives, now we're just waiting for him to come home after practice."

Gobbler starting center

When he isn't practicing his music, marching, tutoring other students or keeping the music hall tidy, he may not be distinguishable clad in his football pads and helmet.

His double interests keep him busy, almost like having a full-time job.

"Mondays are usually the tough days because I have practice from 4 to 7 p.m. after school and then have band practice after that until about 9 p.m.," he said.

After he suffered a concussion in September, the starting center was benched for a few games as a safety precaution, but he is ready to get back in the game.

Looking ahead

When he's not playing football or his trombone, he is probably hitting the books hard.

As a junior, Billy is getting a jumpstart on his college curriculum by taking two college-credit courses, chemistry and history.

When asked which he would chose as his favorite - band and football - he responded with a fair and thoughtful answer: "I couldn't pick. They're both the same, physically and mentally challenging."

The Cuero-raised middle child said he didn't have a lot of pressure from his parents to become a member of band or play football in school, but said it was the freedom that encouraged him to take part in the extracurricular activities.

"I want to be a pediatrician and major in biochemistry and minor in music and maybe go to graduate school," he said in September.

The junior has his eyes on going to California for school, while his parents are hoping that he stays in Texas. After all, it is where he grew up and is home to his roots.

"The town, coaches, teachers, directors, my parents and sister have helped me out a lot," he added.



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