In previous years, when the Red Raiders headed to the locker room at halftime, the crowd would head to the concession stands, but this year, more of them are are sticking around for the show, said Drum Major Alexis Csicsek.
The reason? “The ‘Wow!’ factor,” she said. This year’s halftime show is a Jimi Hendrix show, with the band playing classics like “All Along the Watchtower” and “Purple Haze,” and Csicsek doing a guitar solo on “Fire.” The band added some different moves, too, including a coordinated two-way spin for the trombone line, with half the line spinning their trombones in the air and the other half crouching down and spinning low, and there was a guitar, bass, and drum solo. “The interesting things that aren’t the norm for marching band drew people in,” said Csicsek.
At the same time, the Color Guard has added more complex moves, including routines that include (fake) rifles and sabers. “Usually we are just smiley, but this year the color guard could be more sassy,” said Color Guard Co-Capain Jennifer Cardoso.
While they won’t be able to play their full halftime show at the Super Bowl today, the band and color guard will be better than ever before—and it’s change that started at the grass roots.
“Most of the basis of the cool things that happened this season came from ideas of the students that were put into work by the coaches,” said Csicsek. Cardoso and Co-Captain Tara Peterson brought up the idea of the saber and rifle routines, and their coach worked with them to incorporate them into the show. Csicsek suggested the Jimi Hendrix show and the guitar solo, and band director Matt Repucci looked at the music together with the incoming freshmen and helped choose the pieces. “Our voices were heard more,” said Peterson.
Another important factor was the way the band, the football team, and the cheerleaders have come together in the last year. The cheerleaders have coordinated cheers to the band’s pep songs, and when they call out cheers, the band leads the crowd in calling out the responses. And the football players have shown their support by going to the band competitions.
The band is tighter as a group as well. “I thnk we did a good job this year of making the eighth-graders and freshmen feel like they belonged,” said Csicsek. She made a special effort this year: “I volunteered to go on the underclassmen bus,” she said. “It wound up being a lot of fun to get to know them—even though they are younger, they are just like us. I think being a cohesive unit together really helped us to communicate better with the community overall.”