When the Center Grove High School marching band advanced to semi-state, one of their biggest fans was in his usual spot: the stands.

Ron Baysinger was with the band when they hosted their annual invitational, “Cavalcade of Champions,” making sure judges knew how to tally the score sheets and had enough refreshments in the judges booth.

For decades, he has made the two-and-a-half hour drive from his home near Evansville to help the Marching Trojans through their season.

Baysinger, 64, cheers them on in the stands and spends days before helping them plan invitationals and regional events. He sends text messages to band directors and workers praising the program.

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He is an uncle to a band member. A helper to the band. A friend. And some say, the Marching Trojans’ No. 1 fan.

“He has always been here,” band director Kevin Schuessler said. “That has been a blessing for us.”

Baysinger’s time with the band predates Schuessler and started in 1987 when he was attending a winter guard show in northern Indiana and met Center Grove parents.

They became instant friends, with Baysinger joining the booster parents for dinner that night. That dinner morphed into a decades-long friendship, with Baysinger helping out the Marching Trojans whenever he has a chance.

His brother moved to the school district, and Baysinger has been a booster uncle for nephews who have gone through the program.

The band is his family, whether he has nephews performing or not.

“All the people at Center Grove are like a second family to me,” he said.

Baysinger spent 38 years teaching elementary school for North Posey schools, helping with their marching band and directing their guard for a few years. Helping out at Center Grove is natural, he said.

His experience at his school allowed him to understand what organizing a marching band invitational takes, knowing who to contact and when and how to organize the nuanced details of the event.

“Ultimately, he is our No. 1 fan,” said Renee Skipper, band secretary. “For the longest time, he is always there supporting us and encouraging us.”

Baysinger helped Skipper ease into organizing invitationals her first year and comes up days before Center Grove hosts an event to help her get the final details ready. He also does work from home weeks before the event, he said.

“I’m enjoying what I am doing now and I have the extra time to come up and help her,” he said. “I do a lot of the leg work.”

Part of what draws him to Center Grove is the camaraderie. He stays with his brother when he is in town to help plan invitationals and shares dinner with band members and their parents.

“They seem to be one big, happy family,” he said. “I love what I see.”

He taught elementary school for decades, but his hobby has always been music, he said. And since he has been retired, he has had more time to indulge in the hobby.

Part of his retirement is spent volunteering at the Band Shoppe, a company that makes flags and uniforms for bands, and he goes to Texas annually to represent the shop.

But, when Center Grove needs help, he will be there.

And he will be there Saturday, cheering on Center Grove as they vie for a state championship.

“Its a relief to go to something like this and see the positive things that have happened,” he said.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.