Marching Hundred plays for Super Bowl crowd
By Matthew Glowicki | IDS
Saturday night, the IU Marching Hundred played for a smaller crowd of teachers, friends and family. Twenty hours later, they would be performing before an audience of more than 60,000 screaming football fans.
The IU Marching Hundred practiced Saturday for the second time in preparation for their pre-game Super Bowl XLVI performance Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
This practice, however, was marked by the presence of many of their family members and a new sense of excitement on Super Bowl-eve.
A whistle cut the noise in IU’s John Mellencamp Pavillion. The chatter fell silent. Friends and family moved toward the 50-yard line.
Band members moved into formation and began testing their instruments. Choppy grunts of tubas and the nervous tapping of drums started to fill the pavilion.
Some band members donned wide, toothy smiles. Others looked like they were just trying to hold down their dinner.
“Trombones have the most distance to cover,” David Woodley, director of the Marching Hundred, said to the group. “Can you do that?”
A definitive “yes” rose from the trombone players, and practice continued.
“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” by John Mellencamp started to play as band members kicked off their dress rehearsal. It marked the second time the Marching Hundred had played together since the last home football game in the fall.
Parents with iPads, cellphones and cameras tried to keep their eyes on their sons and daughters.
They tapped their toes and swayed from side to side with the beat of the music.
Dawn Ellenson, camera in hand, looked eagerly into the crowd. She was looking for her daughter, Rachel, among the sea of red.
“Oh my goodness, there she is,” she said with a smile, training her camera on her daughter.
Dawn drove three hours from Wheatfield, Ind., to be at the rehearsal.
“She’s very excited about it,” Dawn said of Rachel. “My younger daughter is sick, and I said ‘well, do I run down here to see this or do I stay home?’ So, she’s home with grandma. I ran down to see this because it’s a chance of a lifetime for her.”
Rachel, a freshman, taught herself the trumpet in sixth grade and has played it ever since.
“It still hasn’t hit me that we’re actually going,” Rachel said. “It’s amazing to be back here marching with everyone here because it really was sad not to be able to see these people every day, but now that we’re back here and actually doing this again, it’s just a great feeling.”
Since the Marching Hundred’s performance was not fully televised, the dress rehearsal was the only time those outside of Lucas Oil would fully see the Super Bowl routine.
“I wish we could be there, but this is as close as I could get,” Dawn said. “We’re very proud of her.”
Farther down the field’s sideline in the pavilion stood Brian and Stacey Tempest of North Vernon, Ind.
Their daughter, piccolo player Brittany Tempest, was treating the performance just like any other.
“We’ve marched for the Colts before, so it feels kind of routine, but I’m sure once I get down under Lucas Oil I’ll be more nervous,” Brittany said.
As the band rearranged themselves for another run through of “Sing Sing Sing (With a Swing),” Brittany’s parents whipped out their phones for a quick check of the IU-Purdue game.
The two said they were pretty wound up about Brittany’s Super Bowl appearance.
“We just love this kind of thing,” Brian said. “We come to everything for the Hundred if we can. We’re typical band parents.”
Leading Brittany, Rachel and the rest of the Marching Hundred was drum major Tiffany Galus, who graduated in December.
After thinking the final football home game against Purdue would be Tiffany’s last performance with the Marching Hundred, Galus’ family all came down for the game.
With the Super Bowl, she’s getting an encore.
“It’s very bittersweet,” she said. “Going into rehearsal today, I had that little lump in my throat that this is really the last time, but there is really no better way to go out than the Super Bowl.”
After practice drew to a close, Galus assessed the performance of the band.
“As of tonight, the show looked great,” she said. “The energy was great. We have a lot of fun on the field, and we look good doing it.”
David Woodley was similarly pleased with the rehearsals. The band had to perfectly time their performance to fill six minutes — no more, no less.
“I think that the students are all smart kids, and the staff have worked really hard to get everyone ready,” he said. “I think we’ve done about as well as we can do. I have no concerns about tomorrow. At this point, if anything goes wrong, it’s something we could not predict.”
One of the last to leave the practice field, Galus said she is proud of her fellow band members.
“My friends and family and, really, the whole IU community has been really supportive,” Galus said. “It just seems like they’re really supportive for the Hundred to have this opportunity. It’s something that the Hundred has really deserved for a long time. It’s finally happening. All the hard work has paid-off.”