SEATTLE – As players, coaches and fans rose at a Seattle Mariners baseball game the night of Sept. 10, 2021, all eyes were on Sgt. Tricia Scheer, a vocalist in the Washington Army National Guard's 133rd Army National Guard Band. Standing just 5 feet tall, she captivated more than 40,000 people with her renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America.
The moment almost didn't happen.
"In 2008, I was working for a financial adviser and I was laid off from my job, all while I was working on my master's program, so I was trying to find a way to support myself, and I met with a number of different military recruiters," said Scheer.
She knew she wanted to help people, so she joined the Washington Army National Guard as a combat medic.
"My first unit was Charlie Med in Seattle; it was a great unit," said Scheer. "One thing I was doing on the side was singing at events, and one day my unit asked me to sing at a memorial service for one of our Soldiers that passed away."
The bugler for the event happened to be the readiness noncommissioned officer for the 133rd Army National Guard Band, then Sgt. 1st Class Alton Huckaby. Before leaving he asked Scheer a question she wasn't prepared for: Would she consider joining the band?
"I thought there is no way I am giving up my medic job because the training is so difficult to become a combat medic, and I didn't want to give that up because I was really enjoying the job I was doing," said Scheer.
Unfortunately, another Soldier died, and Scheer and Huckaby's paths crossed again at the memorial. The question was asked again, and Scheer was better prepared to respond.
"I was actually thinking of getting out of the Guard at the time. It had been five years, and I was pretty much at that point ready to be done when my contract was up," said Scheer. "I said, 'OK, I will come and audition.'"
At the time, Scheer was just six months shy of completing her service obligation and had no interest in extending with the National Guard. Huckaby didn't see that as a problem, knowing that she would want to stay once she got to the band.
"I knew immediately we needed her in the band. However, she was pretty set on transitioning out of the Guard. But I convinced her to give the Guard band a try," said Huckaby. "After a few drills, she was at home."
It may have seemed easy to make the change, but not for Scheer, who concedes she may have overthought the audition.
"Before my audition, he told me over the phone to prepare two to three songs, and it took me five months to prepare. But I knew that if I wanted to do it, I was going to have to extend," said Scheer. "So when I got there for my audition, I started singing Bonnie Raitt's 'Let's give them something to talk about' with the band, and it just flowed so well."
After learning more about the unit, its mission, and that she would have to change her military occupation and go to school in Virginia, Scheer had a lot to think about.
"After that day with the band, it felt like I came home from a trip. It was just so different than being a combat medic and what I had been doing in the military," said Scheer. "I realized there was a lot of potential to broaden and enhance my experience as a musician and as a professional."
Scheer decided to take the chance and reenlisted.
"Initially, I just wanted a change and wanted to broaden my singing repertoire, but then it just became fun," said Scheer.
That fun has carried her through her Guard career and has given her the opportunity to sing in places she could only dream about.
"My family loves the Mariners. My husband is a huge Mariners fan and I have wanted to sing the national anthem at a Mariners game for as long as I can remember," said Scheer. "So when I got an email from the Mariners, I was like, 'What, me?'"
It was an honor Scheer was so grateful to receive. She has sung at numerous Guard events, for senior leaders and Gov. Jay Inslee at the governor's mansion in 2019, but this felt different.
"I had been there so many different times, but this is a different day. The only voice that is going to be making noise is me," said Scheer. "I am already nervous, but then I go down to the field and do the soundcheck. So the players are all out on the field practicing and they turn off the rock music and it goes quiet."
As she wraps up soundcheck, Scheer is feeling better but still just intimidated.
"I mean, I wrap up and I look around and wow, I just sang in front of the Mariners. And the coach comes up to me and is like, 'Hey well done, but can we turn back on the rock music now?'" said Scheer with a laugh.
Approximately 52 seconds. That's how long it takes to sing the National Anthem. Vocalists dream about the opportunity to sing the anthem at a sporting event, with thousands trying out every year. Scheer knows the importance of the song and the responsibility it brings with being chosen to deliver it to a crowd.
"It is so important to me to sing those words because it is our anthem, not just as a military member but as an American," said Scheer. "It is so powerful because music is so powerful. I take it so seriously to sing the Star-Spangled Banner."
Scheer believes in the power of music. She has seen how it can heal those who are hurting, how it can lift the spirits of those who are lost and how it can bring hope and help to those who are listening.
"I joined the Guard as a combat medic and I trained to help people in need. And I know as a musician I am bringing morale. I can help people by bringing them morale through the gift of music."