December 19, 2003
Purdue 'All-American' Band members give bowl game packing tips
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. With six years of experience behind them, the Purdue University "All-American" Marching Band knows how to pack for a bowl game.
This year's destination is Orlando, Fla., for the Capital One Bowl. Band members have differing opinions about what is the most important item to pack on a bowl trip. Some say the most important thing to pop into the suitcase, besides the uniform and instrument, remains the same as it was for the first bowl of head football coach Joe Tiller's string of seven in 1997.
"Camera and film," says Erin Genz, a senior from Colorado Springs, Colo., without hesitation. "I've got so many great memories captured in my scrapbooks. I actually have entire photo albums devoted to band trips because we do so many cool things and I take so many pictures."
Photo opportunities will abound at the Capital One Bowl. Band members will not only perform at the game, but also are slated to play at a Purdue pep rally, march in the Orlando Citrus Parade, play concerts at Disney World and do a New Year's Eve performance and parade at Universal Studios.
Two planes take off from the Purdue Airport Sunday evening (12/28) to carry the 320-member marching band to its seventh consecutive bowl game.
Band seniors, who've been packing bowl bags for four straight years, don't really know what it's like to spend New Year's in the Midwest. Tenor sax player Andy Meyer's dad reminds him of that all the time.
"I know I am extremely lucky. After every game, my dad reminds me about all the years he watched Purdue lose," says Meyer, a senior from Fort Wayne, Ind. "I tell him I was there, too, watching the band, which was the most exciting part of the football game."
Drum major Bob Shriner, a senior from Mishawaka, Ind., was in those same stands. "I have been a Purdue fans since birth, and I can remember sitting in Ross-Ade Stadium during the early 1990s when a four-win season was rare. Being a part of coach Tiller's era is great luck for everyone in the band now."
Even though a camera was the No. 1 answer for most important item in the bowl suitcase, lots of seniors have their own top picks.
For Shriner, it's his whistle. "Without that, it would be a little bit difficult doing parades," he says.
Golden Girl Christy Stallings, of Johnston City, Ill., says No. 1 on her list is bobby pins, brush and hairspray.
Chad Loewenstine, a senior trumpet player from Cincinnati, says, "Considering the environment, I would have to say swimsuit." Brad Rice, a senior clarinet player from Arlington Heights, Ill, says "the most important items to pack are extra alarm clocks, because there is nothing worse than waking up late."
Jelly shoe insoles, Chap Stick and sunglasses also received No. 1 rankings.
Tuba player Alison Lawrence, a senior from Wyomissing, Pa., says "the most important thing to pack for the bowl trip is my cell phone. I like to call home frequently to inform my friends and family about the fun we're having. Another important thing to pack is an endless supply of licorice. There's nothing better than licorice to tame the crazy tuba players."
David Leppla, the band's director, says the Orlando schedule ranks as the most hectic since the Rose Bowl in 2001.
The schedule includes a Disney World pre-parade concert scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29; the 23rd Annual Progress Energy Orlando Citrus Parade at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30; the official Purdue pep rally at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, at the Orange County Convention Center; and a 6 p.m. Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios the same day. On Dec. 31 various pep bands will visit alumni groups as they ring in the new year.
Sandwiched around all the activities are rehearsals and well-deserved free time.
Seniors know it's never easy to travel with 300-plus people and eight buses.
"Without a doubt, flexibility is the most important trait to 'pack' for a successful bowl experience," says Girl in Black Krista Woodward, a senior from Waterford, Mich. "Plans on bowl trips always change it's part of the experience."
Despite the festive atmosphere that dominates bowl games, band members are always aware that they're working and that the image they project defines Purdue for many who are seeing them for the first time.
"Being so visible, it is the responsibility of the band to uphold the reputation of Purdue," says Lawrence. "Our satisfaction comes through knowing that we are representing Purdue appropriately and making the alumni proud."
But fulfilling that responsibility also has great benefits.
"A huge reward is the energy and connection that you make with other bowl travelers," Woodward says. "Everyone is so excited to be there. If you pass someone wearing a Purdue shirt on the street, it doesn't matter who it is. You have an instant connection and you can't help but smile and say 'Go Boilers!'"
For seniors, who performed two straight years at the Sun Bowl, the chance to check out a new stadium generates excitement.
"I adore moving into a new stadium," Genz says. "The grass is different in every stadium and the feel of the crowd is different. The smells are all new, and the whole experience is just a massive load on all the senses."
Indianapolis senior and baritone player Sara Schuch says, "When I step on the field at a bowl game I am overcome by a sense of awe. To hear a crowd of that size roaring when you enter the stadium or start your portion of the halftime it is just priceless."
Stephanie Vahle, of Seneca, Ill., a member of the Big Bass Drum crew, sums up the attitude all band members, especially seniors, will take to the Capital One Bowl.
"You just have to give it everything you have," Vahle says. "For us seniors, it's our last game as a student at Purdue, and speaking for me, I will give it everything I've got. You're there supporting your school. Why give it anything less than 100 percent?"
Note to Journalists: Two planes carrying Purdue "All-American" Band members will take off from Purdue Airport on Sunday (12/28) to carry them to Florida for the Capital One Bowl events. Take-off times are 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Media are welcome to cover the preparation for departure at the airport.
Writer: Kathy Matter, (765) 496-6785, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com
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