FHSU band excited to be a part of history


By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- The players on the Tiger football team won't be the only Fort Hays State University students who will be extra busy the next couple of weeks before first-semester finals.

The Fort Hays State University football team plays its first post-season game in 20 years on Saturday, Dec. 5, when the Tigers battle the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the Mineral Water Bowl.

Kickoff is at noon in Excelsior Springs, Mo., about a 300-mile trip from Hays. Ticket and game information is available on the university's Mineral Water Bowl page at http://goo.gl/KGakKt (case sensitive).

Leaving town early that morning on the day of the game will be the FHSU marching band, said Dr. Lane Weaver, marching band director. The band -- including the color guard and Tiger Debs, the university's dance team -- will send about 140 students to the game.

The night before the game, many of those band members will perform at a symphonic winds concert on campus. The day after the game, several marching band members and other FHSU students will be part of the annual Cathedral Concert in Victoria. Some marching band members will perform in both concerts, plus at the game.

"It's certainly added to our plate," Weaver said. "What a lot of people don't realize is the marching band members here are also the people involved in all of our different ensembles. It's going to be a busy, busy weekend for us."

Sophomore clarinet player Carlie Snethen said she considers it "a compliment" to be so sought after to perform and doesn't mind the added stress to an already busy time of year for college students.

"It will be high stress in that time in order to perform well in a concert setting and in a traditional band setting, but we have talented leadership within both ensembles," said Snethen, an organizational leadership major from Ottawa. "So I have no doubt in my mind that we will perform beautifully just as normal, even under these challenging circumstances. The FHSU bands are resilient and flexible in the work they do, so the challenge is welcomed."

The marching band is continuing rehearsals for its pre-game and halftime performances at the bowl game.

"At this point of the year we normally transition out of marching band mode into concert season," Weaver said. "The rehearsals we're using to prepare for this game are added rehearsals."

The performance at the bowl game will look much like the shows Tiger fans see at home games. But that doesn't mean the band members won't be putting in extra rehearsal hours for the post-season appearance.

Typically, the marching band practices twice a week during the season, with each rehearsal lasting two hours. Band members will go through the choreography of different formations needed for the halftime show.

Olathe sophomore Steven Bolin, who plays the mellophone, said formations used depends on the show. Some are more difficult than others.

"Formations, with diagonals and circles -- it's difficult," Bolin said. "We have to constantly rehearse."

After an 8-3 regular season, the Tigers were selected to make an appearance in the Mineral Water Bowl. It's the first post-season game since 1995 for the football team.

"It's a chance to be a little bit involved in history," Weaver said. "We always want to represent the university the best we can."

Weaver said it wouldn't be possible without the dedication of the students in the band.

"I'm pretty proud of these students," Weaver said. "For them to step up in an increasingly busy time of the year really speaks to the character and the willingness to support the university. It's going to be a long day, but they will come through and do a great job."

Bolin, who will play in both the concert before and after the game, plans to study for finals while on the bus. Ditto for Snethen.

"This opportunity can sometimes be once in a lifetime, and there is plenty of time on the bus to study for some finals " Snethen said. "But my academics are high priority, so I plan on working over fall break as much as I can."

Snethen said she thinks her entire band "family" realizes it is going to be part of FHSU history.

"I am able to cheer on my university in a bowl game, and I get to perform at the game with my band family," she said. "This is pretty special, and not everyone gets to say that they have been able to do this. These are the memories that make college so wonderful."

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