Marching To Their Own Beat: Herschbergers Embody a Spirit of Woodlan

November 3, 2018




WOODBURN, Ind. –  It’s 9:00 on a Tuesday night, and Dirk and Dan Herschberger finally can go home. The Woodlan High Schoolbrothers have spent the last 14 hours at school, winding through a long day that includes classes, homework, football practice and marching band practice.

That’s right – football and marching band, both.  All summer long, the Herschbergers have switched back and forth between shoulder pads and musical instruments in an effort to perform their best in both.

“It never stops,” Dirk, a senior linebacker, slotback receiver and sousaphone player, tells “I enjoy both and I love doing them. That’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

For Dirk and Dan, most days consist of a nearly 3-hour football practice, then a 3-hour marching band practice, with a 15- to 20-minute dinner break in between. Throw Friday night football games and Saturday afternoon marching band competitions into the mix, and it makes for a demanding schedule.


“A lot of people try to compare band and football to say one is harder than the other,” Dan, a junior, says. “Football is more physical and marching band is more mental. It’s remembering a lot of things.” Dan plays defensive back on the gridiron and the French horn and mellophone in the band.


Both brothers say they have played football since their childhood and been members of the band since their respective 7th grade years. Perhaps more uncommon than playing football and marching band in the same season is the success the brothers–and Woodlan—have shared in both. Last season, the Warriors fell just short in the 2A football state title game, their first in 36 years.


Meanwhile, the Spirit of Woodlan Marching Band & Color Guard placed in the Top 10 of the Class D marching band state finals in 2015 and 2016, when older brothers, Derick and Dane, also played. 

“It’s quite a unique experience. It’s always nice to know that I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and I can always look back and say I’ve been on that field,” Dan reflects on both state finals appearances, which were held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Last summer, the band marched in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C.


The Herschbergers’ pride for Woodlan is a year-round routine. Dirk and Dan wrestle in the winter and play golf in the spring. All while staying active with Boy Scouts (three of the four brothers have earned Eagle Scout, while Dan is finishing his). And chances are you will find parents Darren and Debbie somewhere on campus, attending their sons’ games or even working at the concession stands for other Woodlan athletic events.

“Woodlan has really brought us a lot closer as a family,” Dirk adds. “I believe this school is a second home.”

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