Sept. 24, 2004

by Anna Schmall `06

Junior, Clarinetist

Robins, Iowa

It’s early Saturday morning, and my alarm goes off. I slowly manage to pull myself out of bed and get ready for the morning ahead. As I walk across campus to the band building, I marvel at the quiet stillness that surrounds me. In a matter of hours, the campus will be full of life and energy as a crowd of thousands arrives.

I see a few others up with me, taking the same walk out to the band building for a bowl of cereal before heading out to wake the campus up. The building slowly fills with people and noise, presenting a stark contrast with the world around us. That will all change in time.

A few fans are there to cheer us on as we move towards practice. There are more who will be there to watch us run through the show we have been working on for the last week. The march across campus gives everyone the added boost of energy we need for rehearsal. We spend most of the time making sure the details of the performance will run smoothly. We check spacing, practice the entrances, and charts are checked and double checked to make sure they are in order. We hear the phrase “One more time on drums” more than once.

As I walk back from rehearsal to get ready for the game, I see the signs of life appearing on campus. The grills are fired up, and there are students out trying to draw attention and customers to their concession stands. From over by the KC building, I can smell the steak sandwiches being made. Families are starting to wander around, and I hear snatches of conversations- alumni reminiscing, first time visitors trying to take it all in. For now I just smile and continue back to my dorm to get changed for the game. I savor the few moments just blending in with the crowd. After the uniform is on, I know things will be different. Once I can be identified as someone “in the band” I will be posing for pictures, giving directions, and trying to answer the questions that come my way.

Walking over to Bond Hall for the Concert on the Steps, the pre-game activities are in full swing. Campus is now crowded with people. There is no sign of the quiet stillness I experienced a few hours ago.

A short time later, we are up on the steps, crowded shoulder to shoulder. As we wait for everyone to get into place, we yell hello to the friends and families who have come to see us perform. The excited reactions and waves back do a lot to ease the knot that slowly has been forming in my stomach. The energy this gives me along with the enthusiasm of the crowd should add a lot to the performance.

There is just enough time after the concert to pause before going off to inspection. We are called to attention, and inspection begins. People are milling around, watching us as we stand there. Many come with things to shout to their friends in the hope they will crack a smile. I try my best to ignore anything going on around me. After what seems like ages, inspection is complete. In a matter of moments we will be stepping off towards the stadium and the game. The route there is packed with people.

The crowd joins in with us on the cheers as we move to the stadium. The last sounds I hear ringing in my ears are the drums and the cheers of “HERE COME THE IRISH!” The sound of the Victory March rings in the tunnel, and I can feel the drums up through my feet. Once all the players leave for the locker room, it is time to file into the tunnel.

We stand there, packed in like sardines, waiting for the whistle and the drums to start the trot. My heart starts pounding every time. When I am waiting I can feel the energy that has built up to this moment. It is too hard to be still. I want that whistle to blow so I can explode out of that tunnel. From the inside the semidarkness of the tunnel, one can see the first few rows of seats, and all the sounds of the crowd are slightly muffled. But once I step outside, it is a completely different world. It is much like an explosion as the roar of the crowd meets my ears and I finally see the entire stadium packed with people.

The game begins. I find my seat and prepare to spend the next two quarters cheering for the team while anticipating halftime. I put all of my energy into the game, cheering, clapping and playing. After the post game performance, the band marches out of that stadium with just enough energy to make it to the band building. There will be time to recover later. For now, there is only the game and the performance as a member of the Band of the Fighting Irish.

Enjoy the show….Go Irish!!!!