Tyler Kuntz

trumpet
MVC-019Sa“There he is. The voice of the Desoto Central Knowledge Bowl team.” That was the introduction offered by Mr. Cox as he ushered Tyler Kuntz in for his Member of Week interview. As soon as Tyler uttered his first syllable, Mr. Cox’s introduction made perfect sense. Let’s just say that the depth of Tyler’s VERY mature voice belies his youthful age. But first let’s look at the teenager behind the voice.Tyler resides in Olive Branch with three younger brothers and his parents, Jeff and Mary. Jeff has a rather unique job of selling fire trucks and fire fighting equipment. Mary is a stay at home mom who, being the lone female presence, probably needs all that time at home just to maintain some feminine influence in a home dominated by so much testosterone.

Tyler is the oldest of the four brothers. His interest in music predates his time as a Desoto Central band member. “I play the bass [guitar] and the piano. I’ve played the piano since I was six,” he explained. This early interest in music is what led him to join the band program as soon as he was old enough. “I love music, and it’s always interested me.” Signing up for band in the sixth grade became a natural progression. His reason for selecting the trumpet is a little more vague, however. “It just looked appealing to me,” he offered.

But last year, as an eighth grade band member of the Middle School band, with only two years of music experience, Tyler was forced to step it up a notch. That was when director Dennis Cox decided to take The Pride of Desoto Central High School Marching Band into their first full season of marching competitions. But there was a problem. Since Desoto Central High School was only in its second year of existence, he only had ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students to work with. The numbers just weren’t there to pull off full scale marching competitions. To fill the void, and give the band the numbers they needed to have a fighting chance, Tyler and 25 other eighth grade band members were called in from the Middle School to fill the breech. And according to Tyler, it was not an easy gap to fill at first. “Being the youngest guys in the band had it’s drawbacks,” he said as he explained that some of the older band members looked down on their relative youth and inexperience. “It wasn’t easy at first, but everybody did a pretty good job of adapting,” he added. Winning the Division 1A State Championship in their first appearance in state competition last year is proof of that.

Winning the 4A Championship this year was the result of just plain hard work, according to Tyler. As he put it, “That was definitely a great experience. Mr. Cox and Mr. Hopper did a great job of getting us to step it up to a higher level than last year. The music and the marching was a lot harder than last year.”

Tyler’s experience in being the “new guy” coming to the aide of his older contemporaries extends to other areas as well. As a long time Knowledge Bowl participant, he was the only freshman member of a team that recently beat out powerhouse Germantown High School on television.

The Knowledge Bowl is one of his favorite extracurricular activities, and Tyler’s personal interest in science fits well with many of the questions asked in competition. It is no surprise then, that his favorite academic subject this year is biology. “Science is just, you know…cool!”, said Tyler in describing his assessment of the subject. Give credit to Mrs. Whaley for turning a area of study so mundane to so many into something “cool” for a 15 year old. He plans on continuing his studies after high school at the University of Memphis, where his mother attended.

And what does someone with the voice of a radio announcer, an interest in science, and experience in front of a TV camera plan to study in college? “I would like to become a meteorologist,” he said. And then before the obvious question could be asked, he added with a knowing grin, “Yeah…like a broadcast meteorologist.” Right…like anyone with ears couldn’t have made that connection.

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