2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Parade

The ISU marching band performs during the 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl parade along Beale Street on Sunday, Dec. 30, in Memphis, Tenn. The ISU Cyclones and Tulsa Golden Hurricanes kick off the Liberty Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012.

After witnessing firsthand the disappointing defeat of our football team at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, I was thinking back on the whole experience and found that my thoughts kept wandering back to the Iowa State Marching Band. To some students, the band is just a taken-for-granted attachment to the football team, as are our cheerleaders, dance team, and mascot Cy. On this occasion, though, the band shone in a way that our football team, sadly, did not match.

On the day before the game, a parade was held on the famous Beale Street for the Liberty Bowl. Packed on the sidewalks and streets were thousands of people bedecked in cardinal and gold, with the occasional smattering of Tulsa Blue. It was uncomfortably cold outside, and the parade lasted far too long, but at least it ended on a high note. Preceded by several local groups, small high school bands, and the Tulsa Marching Band was our very own ISU Marching Band.

As the crowd was mostly Iowa State fans, they were cheered for the loudest and longest, and as the band disappeared down the street, most of the gathering dispersed. It was obvious that they were the act that everyone had been waiting for, and they were undoubtedly the best bit of the parade.

The next day, during the game, the band again performed excellently. Now this isn’t anything new; our marching band is usually quite good, but amidst the other bands and in an unfamiliar stadium, they seemed to stand out even more. Despite the dreadful game going on, I was able to regain some semblance of school spirit while watching the band at halftime.

The point is, our marching band is often overlooked and rarely appreciated. Though many students and fans love to watch and support the band, it sometimes seems that the majority either doesn’t care at all or is just impatient for the game to resume when the band performs. But try to imagine, for a moment, what a football game without the marching band would be like. Without the brassy, cheerful interludes between plays and the end zone stands filled with red and yellow uniforms and flashing gold instruments. It probably wouldn’t be boring exactly, but it would be a whole lot less exciting. The band is such an integral part of school spirit and game-day action that it would be an entirely different experience without it.

Yet another mistaken opinion of the band is the widely-held image of its members. The idea of the marching band nerd is, if not totally accurate, a familiar one. A popular opinion of marching band members is that they are all weird, socially incompetent nerds who are only interested in how well-tuned are their instruments and how precise their marching steps. Whether we students actually believe in this image or not, it is something that pop culture and media have pressed into our collective conscious enough that it lurks at the back of our thoughts.

You may encounter some band members of this description. However, there are endearingly strange or “nerdy” individuals in all groups of people. The majority of the ISU marching band is comprised of intelligent, hilarious, and unique people, some of which I have had the pleasure of getting to know quite well. Obviously I cannot say that every single member out of three hundred and twenty is this awesome, but it’s probably fair to say that each one is different than what you would expect.

The band deserves campus-wide recognition. Their pre-game and halftime performances and also their constant presence in the end zone should be appreciated as fully as are the football players. The games really wouldn’t be the same without them. The band practices rigorously to put on a show worth watching, much as the football team trains for their time on the field. Gaining the friendship of members of the band is quite fortunate; from my experiences, these people are definitely worth getting to know.

While you watch the football games next season, no matter how well or terribly the game is going, the band is always there, performing as well as they ever do. And even if our team happens to lose, in the words of various band members, including drum major Josh Kassmeyer, “the band always wins.”

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Hailey Gross is a sophomore in English. 

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(1) comment

Nancy Strait

Thank you for an EXCELLENT article about an EXCELLENT group of dedicated individuals!!! My daughter (NOT a nerd) has been with the ISU marching band for 2 years now. I couldn't be more proud of her and ALL the band members. In my opinion, they don't get enough recognition. This is a very time-consuming commitment, often involving 20+ hours of practice per week (rain or shine). On game days, they're required to arrive at the game several hours ahead of kick-off in order to practice and perform. The ISU marching band is one spectacular group of talented young adults. If you've never seen them perform, you're really missing out. ISU MARCHING BAND ROCKS!

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