With another football season kicking off this Saturday against Murray State, the Marching Illini has capped off their preseason practices with a demanding week of intense training.
Summer practices have always adequately prepared the Marching Illini for the upcoming season, but some fear have gone too far. Julia Chen, a freshman tuba player, had no idea what to expect when she got down to Champaign for band camp.
“When I heard that I had to be on campus early for practice, I figured I’d have to be out in the sun for a few hours a day so I brought SPF 70 sunscreen. But I guess I should’ve gotten an SPF in the triple digits because I had to do wall sits over a pile of burning sheet music from the Ohio State University marching band under the scorching August sun,” Chen revealed. “Every day this week for hours at a time, my ass was almost literally on fire just because I needed to ‘be prepared for anything’ this season.”
Band Director Barry Houser, who insists that everyone refer to him simply as “The Director,” had no trouble justifying what’s essentially a mass hazing of a bunch of band geeks.
“Look, we’re a university organization, not a Greek one so that pansy ass non-hazing crap doesn’t apply to us,” Houser grumbled through a lip of tobacco. “Do you think you become the best damn band in the land by simply just practicing music and formations? I say if you don’t have at least a dozen trumpeters hospitalized with heat exhaustion by the end of hell week, then you’re doing it all wrong.”
All band members started off each day this week by cutting the grass of Grange Grove with clarinet reeds and then they split off into instrument-specific training regiments. The drum line allegedly had it so bad that Greg Atkins, one of the band’s many drum majors, nearly walked away from the Marching Illini in his senior year.
“On Monday afternoon we started going over some songs outside the Armory and then some poor freshman dropped a drumstick. The Director ran over and put the kid in a full nelson…then he told us to all drop our drums, which caused an ironically comical ‘ba-dum-tss’ to echo throughout campus,” Atkins stuttered. “We were told to chug copious amounts of water and then use each other’s stomachs as drums for the rest of the day. The aftermath was a ground covered in more vomit and shame than the morning after Unofficial.”
Though the Marching Illini is now nearly half the size it was last year, Houser is confident that his squad of alphas will become a top-tier band in no time.
“Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’ve developed quite a system here,” Houser said. “You hear a note that’s too low, you have them chug a warm, flat Hamm’s. If it’s too high, I whack them with my baton. Now I can guarantee that this whole band gets laid after Block I sees our halftime show.”
It will be interesting to see how the Marching Illini is going to be splitting time between actually performing at the games and getting knee replacement surgeries from over-marching.