By Aaron VanTuyl
The announcement came a few minutes before the coin toss on Friday night at Bearcat Stadium: The award-winning W.F. West High School band would not be playing the Star Spangled Banner.
Instead, Jacob Prigmore would be performing — solo.
An interesting development, to say the least, but one greeted with raucous cheers and applause when the Bearcat, in full uniform, returned the microphone after his stirring rendition of the National Anthem.
It was even more impressive for a first-timer.
“It’s the first time I’ve really ever sang in front of a (crowd),” Prigmore said, adding that he was a bit nervous. “This past week, that’s been what’s on my mind the whole time.”
How did Prigmore, a senior lineman, wind up the center of attention?
“It actually starts back in middle school,” he said. “After practice one day I just started singing the National Anthem, and the rest of the team started singing with me.”
The tradition didn’t die out, and on the bus ride home from the Bearcats’ Week 4 game at Lake Washington a few teammates asked him to sing. Head coach Bob Wollan overheard at the front of the bus and went to investigate.
“It was unbelievable. I thought it was a recording — first of all, who sings the National Anthem on the bus?” Wollan wondered. “And nobody can sing it that good.”
Prigmore, actually, can sing it that good, despite no real voice training. He’s no stranger to music, though he’s not in the choir; instead, he plays trumpet in the school band.
Prigmore, all smiles after the Cats’ 54-20 win, gave his own performance a fair-to-good review.
“I mean, I was satisfied with it?” he said. “I thought it could have been better in some ways.”
He was likely the only member of the crowd not pleasantly surprised by the deep, operatic performance.
“It’s awesome,” Wollan said. “There were more than a few kids that said it brought tears to their eyes, so it was kind of cool. It was emotional for our guys. He’s such a team favorite, and such a great kid.”