seal  Purdue News

August 21, 2003

Donovan and Shriner 'quarterback' 2003 Purdue Band

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University 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, except for the fact they occupy the same turf on football Saturdays.

Donovan, of Dwight, Ill, and Shriner, of Mishawaka, Ind., wear towering fur hats and wool uniforms. Orton and Kirsch wear shiny helmets and sleek spandex. But they are all are expected to be leaders, to run their respective units and make split-second decisions.

Unlike football coaches, band directors don't scout high schools for talented seniors to take over the time-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 in practice.

Shriner and Donovan began their duties with the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band during its August camp and will take the field for the first time in full 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. She eventually wants to work for the FBI.

"One thing that will be an amazing experience for me is to call tunes in the stands during the games," she says. "Not many people get the opportunity to control a crowd of 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," Shriner says. "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 feet 3 inches tall, Donovan might 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."

Joking aside, history indicates 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. The first woman wasn't selected as drum major until 1991.

"I'm honored to fill the shoes of such a short line of female drum majors," Donovan says. "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."

CONTACT: Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director, (765) 496-6785,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Journalists interested in interviewing Danielle Donovan or Bob Shriner should contact Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director, at (765) 496-6785,


Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page