Each section gets pumped up in a different way. The trumpet players get ready to step into what they call its “hype circle.”
“What day is it?” yells trumpeter Jaeden Bell.
Trumpeters roar back: “Game day!”
“I said, ‘what day is it?’”
It’s 4:45 p.m on game day, and the band is off for Gill and the “Step Show,” the performance on the steps outside Gill Coliseum. To get there, band members enter Gill through a door in the back and flow through the hallways to the lobby, where they wait for the cue to burst through the doors spread out on the steps.
Once on the steps, the band works through a brisk set of crowd-pleasers, from the Santana song “Everybody’s Everything” to the durable “Beer Barrel Polka” and wrap up with OSU fight songs. The show is over at 5:22 p.m. The band flows back through the halls of Gill and starts the walk back toward Reser. Clouds threaten rain to the north.
But the moisture holds off, unlike a rehearsal at Reser two days before, when woodwind players had to stash their instruments in their cases to keep them dry – and then had to practice the marching drills while pretending to hold their instruments, the way mimes might do in performance.
By 5:35 p.m. on game day, the band has split into two parts – each waiting in one of the tunnels leading onto the field at Reser Stadium. On the field, on the north end zone, band assistant Dave Manela, wearing a headset, worries that the cloud cover might prevent the flyover, now less than 10 minutes away, by two jets racing toward Reser. These flyovers almost never come off on time, he says, and he would know -- as a student at OSU, he played tenor sax in the band before graduating with a computer engineering degree. He’s another example of how the band attracts students from throughout the campus.
Finally, at 5:47 p.m., the drumline takes the field, followed by the members of the marching band, drawing a big cheer from the crowd.