Since the game wasn't until Monday, we just had practice in the evenings after school last week. We flew to Arizona really early Saturday morning and checked into our good friend The Fiesta Inn, the same hotel in which we stayed the previous three times we went to the Fiesta Bowl. The Fiesta Inn has amazing catered meals, which is why I don't mind getting $100 less in per diem than Florida band members. Another great thing about the inn is its location. They have fruit trees that are fun and a small mountain nearby that's fun for climbing, even if you do find out on the other side that it's considered trespassing (oops). I think they're mostly concerned because it's so easy to lose footing on the loose rock. That night there was some block party that consisted of the two bands trading songs. We couldn't see Florida because they were on a different side of the street corner, and even if they had been in sight, the directors decided we needed to look uniform and stand at attention while they played. I have mixed feelings over that. I know it looks better, but the discomfort really detracts from the ability to enjoy the other band. A couple of us went to the Glendale Visitor's Center where a couple men from the midwest, including an old Hoosier band member, worked. Everyone in Arizona was really welcoming, likely because Buckeyes fans brought them so much income.
Something like over a thousand people came to Tempe High School to watch us practice on Sunday, including alumni, who came and played with us. After that, we just had a pep rally in the afternoon before free time in the Arizona State University district.
Monday included gameday practice, one last catered lunch, and marching around to play at parties outside the stadium. In our full uniform, which is black, that Arizona sun sure kicked in. Security had to pat down everyone in the band (one of the few times it pays to be in the minority as a female-much shorter line). This was kind of a joke, because they just lightly brushed our arms and down to our ribs. Not that anyone in the band was packing, but I can see how one might have been able. Oh well. It's just too hard to make us all go through metal detectors when we clearly wear brass plates on our chests.
Pre-game was amazing. They retracted the ceiling of the dome, although that made for an interesting fly-by, since we still could not see the jets, just heard them. The fans were amazing. The adrenaline really kicked in right before we hit the field. The pumping adrenaline didn't really stop for a while, which was bad because I ended up getting dizzy and falling back on the chair between every play, but I couldn't get my heart to slow down. Eventually, unfortunately, the team managed to bring everyone down. Then we went out to halftime and performed to a lifeless Florida crowd because the team gave up all home team rights in order to wear the white jerseys. I hear FOX showed a lovely shot of us marching under the tarp. They really needed to use more overhead cameras. Even the producers of the stadium scoreboard screens were pretty bad, showing a really long close-up of alternates kneeling next to the tarps while the rest of us made the shape of a ship on the field. The team of course lost, but I overheard some fans comment on us while we marched out, which was heartening. That's the real reason the band is there. I think it's great that someone can see us as a reminder of tradition and Buckeye spirit, even when spirits aren't especially high. Now we're back at school, trying to make up work from the missed days and get focused on the winter athletic band for basketball and hockey.