This past weekend, I found out that at 3:30 a.m., even the floor of a charter bus makes a wonderful bed (with plenty of pillows and blankets of course).
The Auburn University Marching Band took a pep band of 120 members to help cheer on our football team this past weekend as they took on their first SEC opponent of the year, Mississippi State University.
With only one day to travel back and forth from Auburn, and get to the stadium in time to play at Tiger Walk, the pep band trips can sometimes have an early start. This past weekend was no exception. Promises of Chick-fil-A biscuits waiting for us in Mississippi had us all up and semi-awake at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning, ready to load the three buses that would take us the 5 hours to Starkville.
Falling asleep just outside the Auburn city limits, many woke up at the arrival on a foreign campus, just in time to change into uniforms and get ready to unload the buses.
“My favorite part of pep band trips would probably be just going and getting to experience everybody else’s home stadiums and the environment that they normally play in,” said Madison Argo, one of the drum majors for the 2012 AUMB. “I know we’re all used to the electric feel of Jordan-Hare, but it’s really exciting to me to get to go and experience what other people experience most Saturdays.”
Choirs of cowbells are the overriding sound in Starkville on game days, and from the time we stepped off the buses until we got back on that afternoon, the sound seemed to follow us everywhere. However, we did see some friendly faces, as there were plenty of Auburn fans at Tiger Walk waiting to welcome our players to the stadium.
After a quick stop at the concession stands (a rare treat for AUMB members) we sat down under the enormous jumbo-tron in Davis Wade stadium, ready for another game of Auburn Tiger football.
“Pep band trips are really important in the AUMB because we help bring a lot of that energy and spirit from Jordan-Hare to the away trips,” said Taylor Hall, a third-year AUMB member. “It really helps the team and the fans get into the game.”
Whether it’s playing or cheering with the cheerleaders, the AUMB is on their feet for most of the game and it is our job is to keep the momentum going and bring a little bit of Jordan-Hare atmosphere with us wherever we travel.
“I think it is really important for at least some of the AUMB to go to every game because to a pretty large extent the AUMB kind of helps keep the momentum going for our fans that are there,” said fourth year marcher Jimmy Kaczmarek. “It is really important to have that sort of energy and momentum every game, whether or not it is in Jordan-Hare.”
As hard and as much as we can play during a game, defeat can be a hard pill to swallow, but win or lose and wherever we are, we will always play our Alma Mater at the end of every game.
With Cowbells following us the entire way, we walked out of the stadium and back to the buses to prepare for the journey home. Eating free lunch and watching ESPN is always a great way to unwind after a tough game.
On the trip back, I sat in a seat instead of the floor, and got to watch our police escorts magically pull us through traffic toward home (which means driving on the wrong side of the road every once in a while).
As a member of the AUMB, I can say that not every game turns out exactly the way you want it to, but no matter the outcome on the field, away game trips are always a great experience.