A friend on Facebook posted an article today about the athleticism of marching band. Band members are so often regarded as geeks (and I even mockingly refer to myself as such), but in marching band, you’re every bit an athlete as the guys banging into each other before you march out. I am easily 30 pounds heavier now than I was when I marched in college marching band. I won’t see 150 again unless I’m marching four out of seven days again, walking to and from rehearsal, and missing dinner.
Ahhh, those were the days. My freshman year I was so unprepared for the rigors of marching band that I developed chronic calcium tendonitis in both feet. Tendonitis had gotten so bad that calcium deposits were forming in the tendons. Copious amounts of ibuprofin and rest did wonders, but I hobbled for awhile. That same year we all endured a three hour rehearsal in horizontal sleet (Kate, you remember that?); I’m still defrosting, nearly 18 years later. Uh…nearly half my life later…holy crap. I’m going to go sit in a corner and rock now, thanks mental math! Every year we marched the Hoopeston Corn Festival Parade, then ate sweet corn and ice cream until we fell over. I played five Bears games (a couple of years ago Tom and I snagged tickets to see a pre-season Broncos game and we both realized it was the first time either one of us had been to a football game where we weren’t the halftime entertainment). I met my husband in marching band. I met life-long friends in marching band. I discovered how fast I could move, stop, play a piccolo feature, and run like hell again. I played in rain, sleet, wind, snow, blazing heat, suffocating humidity, and the HoosierDome (may it rest in peace). I learned how to replace piccolo pads with a lighter as I walked into a stadium. I learned how to repair a snapped-in-half piccolo headjoint with electrical tape and a prayer. I learned how to hem God-awful wool marching pants with a stapler.
I had a love/hate relationship with marching band. I loved being out there with my friends, and doing some wicked awesome shows. But I hated being out there in the craptastic weather central Illinois would throw our way. I despise going out in bad weather now and will actively avoid it. Don’t bother asking me to an outdoor school or scout function if the weather is going to be bad.
Such great memories of those days. If you ever get a chance to see a state high school marching band finals (here in Colorado it’s usually mid-October), go. You will see an awesome display of athletic musicianship on the field, kids hauling ass and doing things that are MUCH harder than you think. Unless you’ve done it, you just don’t know.