Donovan and Shriner ‘quarterback’
2003 Purdue Band
Drum majors enjoy
Ross-Ade spotlight at Boilermaker football games
Purdue’s drum majors
– Bob Shriner and Danielle Donovan - might not seem to have much
in common with the Boilermakers’ star quarterbacks Kyle Orton
and Brandon Kirsch initially, except for the fact they occupy the same
turf on football Saturdays.
Donovan, of Dwight,
IL, and Bob Shriner, of Mishawaka, IN, wear towering bear fur hats and
toasty wool uniforms. Orton and Kirsch wear shiny helmets and sleek
spandex. But both are expected to be leaders extraordinaire, to run
their respective units with panache, to make split second decisions
as to the best move to achieve success - and to go for it.
Unlike football coaches, band directors don’t scout high schools
for talented seniors to take over the time-heralded and leadership-intensive
drum major position. Donovan and Shriner, both former members of Purdue’s
trumpet section, had to win the right to lead the band by besting the
competition at a grueling spring audition process that included personal
interviews, conducting tests, mace twirling and commanding the band
Shriner and Donovan begin their duties with the band during its August
camp, and take the field for the first time in her regalia on Saturday,
Sept. 6, which is Band Day at Purdue.
“Leading a group of 300 people onto the field for the first time
in front of 70,000 fans will be one of the biggest challenges, but one
of the biggest excitements,” says Donovan, a criminology major
who hopes to do crime scene investigation or work in a coroner's office
after graduation, and eventually work for the FBI.
“One thing that will be an amazing experience for me,” Shriner
adds, “is to call tunes in the stands during the games. Not many
people get the opportunity to control a crowd of 65,00 people on a Saturday
afternoon. I’ve always been a very vocal fan and I want every
Purdue fan to be just as loud as I am during the games.”
A management major who plans to do graduate work in sports management
and one day manage a professional sports venue, Shriner developed a
passion for marching band leadership while serving as drum major for
two years at Mishawaka High School.
“I think having that added responsibility was one thing that made
me want to try out here. Since I’m going to be a senior I feel
like it’s almost my duty to step up and help the rookies become
part of the Purdue band.
Someone was there to teach me the ropes when I was new, and now I want
to the one to help.”
At 5’3” Donovan might just be the shortest drum major in
the long history of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band,
and she likes to jokes that her bear hat might fall off “because
it’s taller than I am.” All joking aside, history records
that she is just the fourth woman to hold the position in 117 years.
Women weren’t allowed to march in the band until the 1960s and
the first woman was selected as drum major in 1991.
“I’m honored to fill the shoes of such a short line of female
drum majors. It will be a great experience to play such a major role
in Purdue Band history. I hope I can carry on the tradition and passion
all the past drum majors have had and make them proud to be Boilermakers!”
Fans tend to associate drum majors with the flashy strutting and mace
routines seen on the football field, but their job entails much more.
During pregame the duo leads the band on the field and does all the
fancy stuff, then it’s down to the real work.
Like the quarterbacks, they are expected to have a game plan and call
the next play which might be a tune, a cheer or a crazy antic like the
wave. Donovan and Shriner strive to build the spirit in the stands,
and keep it at fever pitch, through their selections.
“I think this season has the potential to be one of our best seasons
ever and I’m ready to do everything I can to make sure we put
on the best show possible,” says Shriner. He’s looking forward
to upholding and continuing the traditions that so many drum majors
have worked to create and maintain at Purdue while adding a bit of his
own personality to the mix.
Likewise, Donovan also wants to make her mark. “I want to incorporate
some contemporary and some traditional ideas to make the best band in
the land even better,” she says.
“I have a passion for marching band because of the opportunity
for so much creativity,” she adds. “In marching band you
don’t just sit and make music, you’re out there performing
to the music you’re making. It’s something new everyday
and that’s what I love.”
The level of involvement offered to Purdue drum majors – most
universities don’t let their drum majors take charge of the band
in the stands – turned her onto the opportunity. “When I
got to Purdue and saw what our drum majors do, I knew that I had to
do it, so I went for it,” she says.
Purdue University, which offers a vast array of performing ensembles
but no performance degrees, turned out to be a perfect choice for both
drum majors. “I wanted to be involved in music after high school,
but didn’t want to pursue a music major, so Purdue was the perfect
place for me to stay heavily involved in music while studying toward
a degree in criminology. I was also impressed by the chance to travel
and the opportunities to go to Bowl Games,” Donovan says.
Music, she adds, “has enhanced so many aspect s of my life –
confidence, interaction, talking/people skills, concentration, and most
Communication skills are on the top of Shriner’s list of benefits
from the band experience. “When we’re trying to get something
across to the rest of the band we have to utilize communication and
interpersonal skills. You’ve got to know how to deal with all
types of personalities and groups. I know these skills will aid me in
On the personal side, both say rare friendships come out of band. “I
have made friendships here that will last a lifetime and I couldn’t
be happier about that. Every time I’m with a friend from band,
I thank my time in band for allowing me to meet that person,”
His freshman year the “All-American Band went to the Rose Bowl
and Shriner thought those memories might be his all-time favorites.
But he figures to top them this fall. “I’m sure this year
will bring many more memories that will make it just a little harder
to walk away form Purdue when I graduate. Waiting for those memories
is one of the things that excites me most about this year. It’s
going to be a great year!”
The “All-American” Marching Band’s drum majors and
Purdue’s quarterbacks, have their sites set on a winning season
and the ultimate moment of shared success comes at the end of victorious
home games. Following a tradition started in the Joe Tiller era, the
football players gather around the band and sing “Hail Purdue”
as the drum majors conduct the school fight school.
For more information about the Purdue “All-American” Marching
Band, visit the website at www.purdue.edu/BANDS
For more information about Purdue football, and how to obtain game tickets,
By Kathy Matter
Purdue Bands Public Relations Director