It's been an incredible year for the Western Michigan University football team. Not only are the Broncos a ranked team with a perfect 12-0 season, but ESPN College GameDay even made a trip to campus this Fall, shining a national spotlight on our hometown team. And on top of that, the Broncos are headed to the MAC championship game tonight at Ford Field.
We know that PJ Fleck's undefeated team has put in countless hours of practice and preparation this season, but they're not the only ones with a rigorous schedule. The Bronco Marching Band, who will also be taking the field in Detroit this evening, have attended daily rehearsals, endured long hours, memorized scores of music, and mastered fast-paced drill movements for a number of half-time shows, all to support the team and delight Bronco fans with the Sound of Western.
For a deeper look into the busy world of the Bronco Marching Band, we asked trumpet section leader Colby Stackhouse to walk us through a day in his life. On November 19th, from the time he zipped up his BMB uniform and headed to an early morning rehearsal to the moment exited the field through the tunnel after the game and post-game show, Colby shared with us his game day perspective. Read on to take a march in Colby's shoes:
Hello! My name is Colby Stackhouse, and I am a senior in the Bronco Marching Band. This year, I have the honor to serve as one of our trumpet section leaders. Though I’m old, this will only be my second year as a member of the BMB. This band is a huge family for me, and I’m happy I get to spend most days with them. The hours are long, but the work is prideful. To add to the positivity, the Bronco Band is led by one of the best Directors in the country. Rain or shine your band will be there to put on a great show! Here's what a (game) day in my life looks like!
Starting my day
Good Morning! It’s 4:30 a.m., and it’s football game day in Kalamazoo! Game days usually start with cereal and my cats wanting attention. We have a 17-hour day today, and there will be a high of 32 degrees. Believe it or not, I live for this! Also, ESPN College Game Day is in town! Time to suit up, bundle up, and head to Waldo Stadium for our morning rehearsal.
Ever wonder what makes the Sound of Western so good? The key to a great college band is many rehearsal hours. This includes 2 hours of rehearsing everyday along with a 3-hour rehearsal at the stadium on game day mornings. This morning, we will be doing many run-throughs of our half-time show and we'll practice our pre-game performance. When we finish here, we will rally near Sangren to support our team and put on a show for our fellow Broncos.
ESPN College GameDay on campus!
Not going to lie, we are cold and wet…but I’m surrounded by my best friends and the campus is ecstatic right now! It is impossible to see a downside to the situation. At this time, we just sit and wait for the camera to pan to us and then we get crazy! When this ends, it’s time to head to Kinley Track and prepare for our pre-game.
Marching to the stadium
Now it's time to take our 315+ member band and march to Waldo Stadium. We tend to not make this a quiet procedure… cue the drumline and lets boogie! I love seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces as we get crazy with school pride. For me, that’s what its about!
This is my favorite part of our show! While we wait to run on in the tunnel, I can hear the crowd start to get excited as our drumline enters the field and plays out their opening statement. With great anticipation, the band runs out onto the field and it’s time to show off the Sound of Western!
In the stands
The BMB in the stands is a practically a well-organized, extremely loud fan section. Here we play cheers and groove to our drumline. I can confidently say that some of the biggest football fans at Western are in this band. I’ll never forget Ricky Meyer (fellow trumpet section leader) screaming his head off at bad calls.
Now that its half-time, it’s our chance to perform the show we’ve been working on for the past two weeks. This week’s show is our classical show, which includes Fire of Eternal Glory, The Great Gate of Kiev and 1812 Overture. It’s amazing to look up to the stands from the field and see a full stadium staying to watch their band. The support that Kalamazoo has for us is overwhelming and we definitely appreciate it.
As soon as our Bronco football team finishes the game, we all rush out to the field and play the Alma Mater and fight song with the team. Win or lose, this is our moment to come together and support each other. It's also a Bronco Band tradition to play Amazing Grace after the game, and this year I have the honor of being the soloist. I have dedicated the performances of this song to my grandfather who passed away earlier this semester. This is always one of my favorite moments.
After 17 hours, I’m ready to head home. I may be tired, but this day has been full of satisfaction. Our team is still undefeated, and I was able to act silly on live television. Standing in the cold for hours on end doing marching band may not sound enticing to most, but I’d say I’m living the dream.
Photos courtesy of Colby Stackhouse, Camille Day and the Bronco Marching Band Media Staff.