Rose Bowl fever heats up holidays for Indiana band seniors
Toes may be tingling from the cold, thigh muscles may be aching from chair-stepping for miles and arms maybe feeling the strain imposed by keeping elbows high to play for hours at a time, but no one in the Purdue ĎAll-Americaní Marching Band complains.
Blustery practice days marked by single digit wind chills canít quash Rose Bowl fever, an infectious disease rampant in the 315 band members making the trip to sunny Pasadena to perform in the 112th Rose Bowl Parade and the 87th Rose Bowl on Jan.1.
"Itís almost unbelievable," says Meaghan Klontz, a senior clarinet player and food science major from South Bend. "Who would have ever thought after so many losing seasons we would be going to California."
For the bandís 65 seniors -the first in Purdue history to go to four consecutive bowl games -the Rose Bowl represents a dream come true.
"Ever since I was a kid, I watched the Rose parade and the game on TV almost like a tradition. When I joined marching band in high school, I always wanted to be part of a big parade such as that. Now I get to go," says Kris Gibson who was voted the Outstanding Marching Band Member for 2000.
Like many of his fellow band members, Gibson, a senior electrical engineering major and trumpeter from Georgetown, has never been to California. "Iím anxious to sit in the sand in 85 degree weather and soak up the rays. I canít wait!" he says.
With rehearsals, trips to Disneyland and Universal Studios, and multitudinous pep rallies on their schedules, there wonít be a lot of time for sun and sand. With all the hype surrounding the Rose Bowl, band members find themselves anticipating the pressure
points and preparing for them.
"Nerves are going to be running high," says Jason Singer, a senior trumpet player and pharmacy major from New Palestine. "The exposure is so great and I donít want to be the one to screw up on national television. Practices will be intense and frustrating at times, but come Jan.1 it will be worth it."
The high-visibility this particular bowl "adds a great deal of pressure to want to reach perfection," Klontz says. "I really think that the entire band is going to strive for reaching a level of excellence far beyond anything weíve ever achieved."
Before leaving the West Lafayette campus for Christmas break, the band concentrated on endurance marching to prepare for the grueling 5.5 mile Rose Parade route. Many students planned on running every day during break to keep in shape. Still, "I imagine it will be tiring. But we will be so pumped that it will not be noticeable," says Erik Olsen, a senior saxophone player and mechanical engineering major from Lafayette.
Twirler Jennifer Herald, a senior electrical engineering technology major from Indianapolis, says experience plays a big part in dealing with performance nerves. "Iím glad at the point now where I can go out there and just twirl, and perform for the fun, and not be worried about making mistakes. It really makes the experience more enjoyable."
No amount of experience, however, diminishes the rush of emotion that comes with performing at a bowl game. "Running onto the field is a feeling that canít be explained. The surge of energy and the pride that I feel is a sensation that is beyond words.
For those couple minutes, the world just stops and all seems to be right," says Dan Bihl, a senior mechanical engineering major and horn player from Richmond.
"I am sure the emotions standing in front of 100,000 people in Pasadena will be too great for words. It is so great to be part of a game where people actually stay to see the bands instead of getting a hot dog at half time. The respect and compliments we receive from all the fans is incredible," Singer adds
Outside performances, the chance to hang out with friends and seek out the culture of southern California rank high with band members. Sleep is not high on the agenda.
"The hardest part for me is the lack of sleep," admits Christa Hooten whoíd rather spend any extra time exploring. "The most fun is definitely getting to be with friends. The bowl trips make memories that will last a lifetime," says the senior piccolo player
and industrial engineering major from Evansville.
No one has to remind these seniors how lucky they are to go to a bowl game every year of their four on campus.
"I have followed Purdue sports since I was able to walk. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all went to Purdue so itís in my blood. I lived through the bad years, and knew that someday the good years would come. Luckily I have been able to be
a part of them," says Singer.
"From the very beginning of the year now, we begin talking about bowl travel. Five to ten years ago, that would have never entered anyoneís mind. How great it is to be a Boilermaker!"
-By Kathy Matter, Bands PR Director