Stories from Northwestern (Part 2)

As previously described, NUMB has been a huge part of my Northwestern experience during my first quarter. But there are a lot of different experiences involved with NUMB, from band camp to spirit sessions to gamedays. The most powerful experience of them all, however, was undoubtedly homecoming gameday. This year’s homecoming game could not possibly have been more hyped. Everyone on campus knew it was going to be huge, as it was our first conference game of the season and our opponent was none other than the Ohio State University. Then, ESPN Gameday announced that it was coming to our campus to highlight the game. During the entire week, you could smell the Wildcat pride in the air. The days leading up to the game were filled with events. The band was called out at 5AM (can you believe it? 5AM call time! The things I do for NUMB…) on Friday morning to play for ESPN’s radio show, Mike & Mike (which is admittedly worth waking up at 5AM for). Despite the early broadcast time, the band, the spirit squad, the team’s D-line, and coach Fitz were all present to talk about the monumental game to come. It was great to see coach Fitz talk about the team and their preparation for the big game with Mike Greenberg, one of the hosts of the show and a Northwestern alum, and the band got a lot of good coverage on the network. That night was the homecoming parade, and what homecoming parade would be complete without the band leading it? As a freshmen barely a month into his university experience, being a part of that parade and seeing all the students lined up along Sheridan road to cheer us on was bigger and better than any high school homecoming. As the hour grew late, the band gathered once more for the great tradition of Drumline Serenade, which essentially involves the band following the drumline across campus as we shout our drum cheers as loud as we possibly can. If there’s something closer to pure fun than Drumline Serenade, I can’t imagine what it would be. Then came gameday. Since the band had the opportunity to play at College Gameday, we came bright and early to the shore of lake michigan and played on national TV with a beautiful sunrise in the background. A short lunch break followed, then we were off to Ryan Field to face the Buckeyes.

Despite the game being slightly delayed in its start due to the rain, the spirits ran high. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. Never in recent history had the ‘Cats played a more important game. I’ll never forget the moment when our director’s whistle blew and we marched onto the field for our pregame. The wave of purple in our student section, already pumped up and cheering, was a sight to see. When the band concluded our fight song, “Push On,” with our ubiquitous shouting of “Go ‘Cats,” the stadium echoed the words. The wall of sound that hit me at that moment almost physically knocked me back. I’m certain that I’ll remember that moment for many years to come.

Even though the outcome of the football game was not the one we wanted, the ‘Cats fought hard and we the band were there to cheer them on until the very last second. Regardless of what the score is, who the winner is, or even if college gameday is on campus or not, NUMB fights through the rain, wind, fatigue, and unfavorable game predictions (thanks, Lee Corso) to always stand by the team. I’m extremely proud of our Pride and Guts, and I’m extremely proud to be a part of NUMB.

Go ‘Cats, and thanks for creating the most unforgettable memory in my college experience.

Stories from Northwestern (Part 1)

The “Stories from Northwestern” posts are where we’ll be playing catch-up for the time that my blog wasn’t up and running due to the website renovation. And the first post is about… that’s right, band camp.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m going through my second quarter of my freshman year here at Northwestern University. Looking back to my very first experiences here at Northwestern, all that comes to mind is the Northwestern University “Wildcat” Marching Band, or more affectionately known as NUMB. Because, you see, Northwestern is a Big Ten school, and that means our nationally televised Division I football is kind of a big deal. Which, in turn, makes our marching band also kind of a big deal. Because of the high level of excellence for which Big Ten Bands strive, most Big Ten Bands ask their members to come in a few weeks before the start of the school year for band camp, where everyone learns (or refreshes) the basics and do nothing but band-related things for every waking hour of every day.

And when I say nothing but band, I really mean it. Everyone, including the freshmen, move into the temporary housing on the very first day. It’s like any other college move-in day, but only much smaller in scale and for only band geeks. You say goodbye to your family and make new friends, and you don’t know it then and there, but that moment is the beginning of some very long-lasting friendships (and in some cases, romances). You wake up every morning thereafter, eat breakfast, report to rehearsal by 8:30am. Then you practice until 9:30pm, save for lunch and dinner breaks. And you do this with the same 180 other student musicians for two weeks. That’s band camp.

As you can imagine, as the days grow longer and the legs get sorer, the friendships get tighter and the bonds become stronger. Going through band camp with someone is an experience that will forever change how you view them.

Despite the physically taxing schedule, NUMB keeps the spirit high throughout band camp and onto the rest of the season. Spirit, after all, is what we’re all about. And for me, that’s what NUMB is all about. Sure, NUMB wouldn’t be what it is without the music or band camp or numerous other things that all contribute to the experience. But when it comes down to it, our spirit is what keeps us united. Our spirit keeps us shouting our drum cheers after long days of rehearsal, our spirit keeps us doing the traditions from generations before. Our spirit, the spirit of NUMB, is what I’ll remember for the rest of my life.