Jul 16, 2020
Sara Kendrick comes from a family that stands up against diversity. For example, her sister is a legally blind art teacher. Photos by Michael Price / The Collegian

Marching to a different tone

Sara Kendrick comes from a family that stands up against adversity. For example, her sister is a legally blind art teacher.
Photos by Michael Price / The Collegian

Sara Kendrick plays the alto and baritone saxophone in the Bulldog Marching Band.

She says she grew up around marching band. Her older sisters were in the high school marching band.

“I’ve been in the whole marching band thing since I was three. I was hooked on it.”

Sara followed in her sister’s steps, playing the saxophone in high school and continuing to march in college.

She reads music and learns the marches performed by the band.  She practices with her teammates every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They march together at Bulldog football games.

But Sara, however, is unique. While the rest of her bandmates follow along through sound, she cannot, because Sara is deaf.

Like her fellow band members, Sara must learn the notes and the tempo.

“A normal person can listen to other people to make sure their tones are right, their pitch is right, but I can’t rely on the sound,” Sara said. “I have to watch the conductor to make sure I’m on beat.”

Besides the music portion of the marching band experience, Sara enjoys practicing and performing the marches.  She described her experience with the band as one that is very enjoyable.

David Fullmer, director of the Bulldog Marching band, said he appreciates working with Sara.

“We don’t think of Sara as deaf or disabled,” Fullmer said. “She’s a great marcher and a great musician.”

He also said seeing the interpreter work with Sara is very interesting. Fullmer pointed out the conspicuousness of the interpreters work.

Fullmer also noted the way in which they convey the emotions he is communicating to the band.

While her ability to hear is limited, her drive and sense of purpose is as strong as any other high-achieving college student.

Sara is majoring in chemistry, and plans to become a forensic specialist.

Along with her schoolwork and commitment to the marching band, Sara is also an avid motorcyclist. She rides a Harley-Davidson, as do her parents

Sara comes from a line of women who do not look upon disabilities as limiting, but rather a worthwhile challenge. Her mother is an amputee; her left leg is amputated below the knee and yet, she rides motorcycles.

One of Sara’s older sisters is legally blind but teaches art.

Sara has an air of humility about her, which seems to point to an attitude not focused on struggling to overcome the odds but instead living in a way that asserts her commitment to success.

Her objective is not simply overcoming but rather successfully completing college, playing the saxophone, spending time with her boyfriend and enjoying long rides on her motorcycle.

Sara said she is looking forward to Saturday’s Homecoming game.

“I just hope to have fun and enjoy it,” she said. “Hopefully they win the game!”

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