It may have been Family Weekend, but the Christopher Newport University Marching Captains spent nearly all of it with a different kind of family: their band family.
At 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, CNU band members found themselves falling out of bed and into snazzy uniforms that wouldn’t get removed until nearly 10 p.m. that night. The Marching Captains had a full rehearsal at Pomoco Stadium, a performance at “Pirates Pack the Park,” and then jetted off to practice for the Arts Showcase at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, where they later kicked off the show and played four songs for a packed house. Immediately after the applause, they could be seen in various states of disarray, practicing their halftime show outside the Ferguson, in the ominous gloom that settled above campus. Evening brought no reprieve; there was still the football game against Shenandoah University.
Come hell or high water, the band always plays at football games.
“I want them to always be high energy in all performances whether it is raining or shining, or winning or losing,” said band director John Lopez. “I expect a lot out of the Marching Captains. They play a prime role in not only creating a great college game-day atmosphere, but representing CNU as a whole.”
Sept. 21 was just a glimpse in the life of a Marching Captain. Like other athletes, the band students juggle their sport with their schedule and social life.
“We practice on a regular basis like any other varsity team,” said freshman Jeff Lilliston. “We just happen to have practice outside of practice too.”
Despite the sometimes arduous effort involved with band, there’s still room for a social life. “There’s [actually] a lot of social life within the band,” said sophomore Blaine Ries. “You develop a good relationship with the people [you work with].”
Band practice is every other day, so there are certainly gaps to accommodate a social life outside of the band as well.
Although accommodating, band isn’t without its difficulties. “This year has been a learning experience for the whole band, not just the freshmen,” said Lopez. “This is my first year at CNU, so even the upperclassmen are learning new ways to do things.”
Band is simultaneously a sport and a class, so some of the issues are academic. “There’s nothing that bad about it,” said Ries, adding that “the only true thing I don’t like is that for all the effort we put into it, it really should be more than a one credit course.”
Other issues are athletic. “It’s [still] demanding. It’s like any kind of sport here at CNU,” says Lilliston. “It [takes] the same amount of dedication that you need to be an athlete.”
Lopez also places great stock in dedication, stating, “All of the Marching Captains are great students who are dedicated and passionate about what they do.”
Perhaps that passion stems from the fact that they actually want to do this. The Marching Captains chose to follow their musical passions into college. “We sign up for it, and a lot of us do it because we love making music,” says Ries. “Marching band is one of those things people continue because they love doing it.”