Big Red Marching Machine drums up Redbird pride in Frisco
Last summer, Redbird football coach Brock Spack spoke to members of the Big Red Marching Machine at band camp. “We’ll see you in Texas,” he told them.
“And look at us. Here we are in Texas,” said Big Red drum major Sara Sneyd, senior music education major.
Nearly 200 Big Red members spent 17+ hours in a bus Thursday to make the trip to Frisco, Texas, for Saturday’s FCS national championship game. It’s an all-volunteer crew, adding to an already busy performance schedule for the season. Students who came are cutting their winter break short.
The band spent part of Friday practicing near Toyota Stadium, where they will play for 6 minutes during halftime Saturday. (North Dakota State’s band will also play for 6 minutes.) Later Friday, Big Red was set to perform at an official gathering for Illinois State fans and alumni called Redbird Reception.
“Being able to see the football team at this point in their season, being so successful, and being able to cheer them on is really special, and something that doesn’t happen all that often. I’m just really glad we get to be part of it,” said drum major Meagan Vasel, junior music business major.
Big Red has been traveling a lot this season, so they’re used to it.
“It’s cool to see how many people from ISU actually came down, because it’s so far away,” said drum major Casey Sukel, senior music education major.
In a season full of big moments punctuated by Big Red’s trademark sound, this is the biggest of all.
“This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done. It’s a good way to go out,” said drum major Sara Reis, senior music education major.
The band plays a special role for Illinois State fans, said Matt Foster, senior music education major and a trumpet section leader. He’s been with the historic band for two years.
“We want to get people involved in the ISU experience,” he said. “That energy transfers to the team. That’s why we’re really glad we could be here in Texas and had so many people come down.”
Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.