Marching forward on their own terms

On a fall gameday in Bozeman you are bound to find the Bobcat football team prepping for their upcoming game at Bobcat Stadium, as well as Bobcat fans tailgating before the game. What many don’t think about is the Spirit of the West (SOTW) Marching Band getting ready to help set the tone of excitement for the atmosphere at Bobcat Stadium.

The marching band’s determination and hard work has paid off through the first half of the 2017 season. Their role reaches much farther than just the games, as they showed in the annual homecoming week in great detail with their performance on Sept. 29 for the pep rally downtown. The band didn’t get much time off going into Saturday, Sept. 30 as the the marching band arriving at 9 a.m. for the homecoming parade, which started at 10 a.m. Following the parade, the band reported at noon for their march over to the Bobcat Prowl. Each home game, the SOTW leads the Bobcat football into the stadium and onto the field with the playing of the MSU Fight Song. They finished up the football game, but were not done yet, as a smaller portion of SOTW members comprising a pep band then reported to Shroyer Gym for Cat/Griz Volleyball, cheering the Cats on to a sweep in three straight sets over the Griz.

When you make your way to Bobcat stadium on gameday, remember the members of the Bobcat family that make that experience such a fun and unique time, providing music and cheer no matter the outcome. With students ranging from music majors to cell biology and neuroscience, the marching band brings together an assortment of different backgrounds and levels of experience to pump up Bobcat Nation any chance they get.

The two members most prominent in the marching band are the drum majors. For the 2017 season, Junior Kendra Hergett and Senior Jessica Johnson have the privilege of leading the band. Hergett loved the marching band as a freshman, and came back to be granted Drum Major in her third year. “I love the feeling of doing something great as a group on campus and being able to show that off,” Hergett said.

The marching band’s impact is noticeable no matter the setting. Johnson feels this especially when directing. “The band’s purpose is to entertain, so that is what we are going to do,” she said. “We have a 10-minute show that you can really only see at football games. It’s a very unique experience that is a part of any fan’s gameday experience.”

It’s no question that the marching band puts in a large amount of work to brighten the atmosphere at MSU sporting events. In terms of numbers, the marching band puts in 72 hours in an eight-day camp before school starts. These are grueling days in the middle of August, and this accounts for roughly 50 percent of the hours of practice for the entire year. So why do these members keep coming back? Sophomore trombone player Megan Crawford summed it up well in saying, “the atmosphere of the whole band is what brought me back. We are all one big, happy band family.”  

If you haven’t been able to see the marching band perform yet at halftimes this year, they are performing again with a marching band exhibition on Saturday, Oct. 14 at Bobcat Stadium. With two high school marching bands from the area coming to perform, Park High School and Bozeman High School, the SOTW will be the highlight of the morning as they wrap up the show. The event will start at 10:30 a.m. and is free to the public.

Spirit of the West’s Lillian Zimmerman (Top) and Jacob Stolle (Bottom) try to get on the Simba Cam at during a media break in an NCAA football game in Bozeman, Mont. Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Photo by Brendan Kristiansen.
Spirit of the West’s color guards member Hannah Speers dances in the halftime performance at an NCAA football game between Montana State and Portland State in Bozeman, Mont. Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Photo by Brendan Kristiansen.
SOTW’s Drum Major Jessica Johnson conducts the halftime show at MSU’s Home football game against Portland State. Saturday, Oct 7, 2017. Photo by Brendan Kristiansen.
Spirit of the West’s Lillian Zimmerman (Top) and Jacob Stolle (Bottom) try to get on the Simba Cam at during a media break in an NCAA football game in Bozeman, Mont. Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Photo by Brendan Kristiansen.