Ravens band to honor teen member who died

Season to be dedicated to Wilde Lake student

July 02, 2004|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There will be an empty space in the sousaphone line when Baltimore's Marching Ravens play in Fourth of July parades this weekend.

A band mate, Matt Sims, died in a car accident Wednesday afternoon in Columbia. The band will not fill his spot in the four parades they will march in this holiday weekend.

"He was such a good kid," said band President John Ziemann. "We're dedicating the 2004 season to Matt in his memory and in honor of his family. The sousaphone section also will wear black armbands this season."


The 17-year-old Wilde Lake High School student was driving west on Oakland Mills Road between Old Montgomery Road and Sohap Lane shortly after 12:30 p.m. when his car came to a bend in the road, veered into the eastbound lane and struck a tree.

Sims was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Justin Warfield, 15, also a Wilde Lake student, was listed in guarded condition yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Margee Sims said her son also played in the Wilde Lake marching band, loved music and was hoping to have a career as a music teacher. She said he wrote and produced all kinds of music and had played in the Ravens band at various times since the eighth grade.

Ziemann loves to tell the story of how the teenager got the nickname "Muscles."

When Sims first started playing with the band, he was a toothpick-thin eighth-grader who needed to find a way to heft the large sousaphone, the ungainly cousin to the tuba that wraps around the player.

He put the instrument on the ground and then would lie down to get under it and pick it up. Someone working with the band observed his technique. Thus, the nickname.

The nickname

"He loved that nickname," Margee Sims said. "He loved [being with] the band. He loved coming up across the big jumbo screen at the [stadium]."

She said that her son also enjoyed working on cars with his father, Robert, and was the head lifeguard for the Columbia Association's Hawthorn Pool, working indoors and outdoors.

But Sims said that music was what her son truly loved. He began playing trumpet in elementary school and got interested in the tuba during middle school. He was recommended for the Marching Ravens by his band teacher.

Matt Sims relished his time with the Marching Ravens, practicing with the band and playing in a variety of functions. Band members heard the news of his death when they got together for practice Wednesday night in Howard County.

"We had a moment of silence for him at the start of practice," said Kristin Moyes, tenor-sax section leader and a recent North Carroll High graduate. "It was very emotional, and it was really hard to go into practice because there was so much emotion."

The band will leave Sims' spot unfilled during their parades in Dundalk, Towson, Catonsville and Havre de Grace this weekend, but members said they will keep him in mind at all times.

"John [Ziemann] said to think about him when we perform in the parades," Moyes said.

A viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home, 4112 Old Columbia Pike in Ellicott City. A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City.

Matt Sims is survived by his parents and a younger brother, Christopher.

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