By Grace Connatser, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service   Published Dec 16, 2018 at 1:01 PM

Jordan Cook-Carter, a senior at Riverside University High School, walked into the 2018 Milwaukee Public Schools' Drumline Competition feeling cool and confident. With his experience, he felt as if his team was ready to face rival Rufus King High School again after Riverside’s second-place finish behind Rufus King last year.

"I’ve been a percussionist for about seven years," Cook-Carter said. "I’ve been playing on the Riverside drumline for three years. This is my final year."

As it turned out, that confidence would push Cook-Carter and his team to capture Riverside’s first win at the annual competition, which began in 2002. This year’s competition was held at Rufus King High School, 1801 W. Olive St. While the Rufus King Generals came in second place this year, the Riverside Tigers managed to overtake them on home turf.

"The difference (from last year) is we got a lot of experience," Cook-Carter said. "This is my first time being captain of anything. … (Last year) we were just trying stuff out, trying to piece stuff together real fast. This year, we took our time, we had everybody in and everybody was on the same page. Everybody was ready to go."

Riverside University, Rufus King varsity and junior varsity, Milwaukee High School of the Arts, North Division, Ronald W. Reagan College Preparatory and Washington high schools participated. Golda Meir Middle School, Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts and Wedgewood Park International School competed in middle school-age content, with Golda Meir winning first place.

Isaiah Benson, who works with the Riverside drumline team, said before the competition that facing Rufus King was exciting, but made him a little nervous. He said the competition this year was fierce. "It’s the returning house of the King," he said. "Just two years ago, we had Milwaukee High School of the Arts take home the championship (its) first year. It’s getting back to the basics of beating King."

Promise Bruce, a radio DJ for V100.7 FM, emceed the event. "I didn’t really know how proficient some of them would be, because they are high school and middle school students," he said. "I didn’t know how serious they took it. … Some of these kids are very good at what they do, and I could see them doing it (at) a college level, as well."

Cook-Carter said what got his team through the competition was the feeling of togetherness and teamwork. "You do your homework and everything, and all your extracurricular activity, but when you go home and practice for your team, it’s like how you practice for any other team. We’re a group. We’re family."