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Why I’m a Fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes: I Joined the Hawkeye Marching Band

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Hawkeye Marching Band brought me closer to the Hawkeyes... literally.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Stanford vs Iowa Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

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In another life, playing percussion was my greatest passion.

I started playing in middle school, and didn’t really like it, because I didn’t have a teacher who was a percussionist. But I really wanted to be in my high school’s drumline, so I started taking private lessons and fell in love with everything to do with marching percussion.

After not making it my freshman year on the quads, I got stuck in the pit, playing xylophone and auxiliary percussion. I hated it. So I started practicing more, and made it onto the tenor (quads, the guy who has 5 or 6 drums) line my sophomore year of high school.

As I improved over the next two years, and as I went through high school, the thought of where to go to college started popping into my brain more than it ever had before. I come from a family of devoted Hawkeye fans: my dad and his brothers grew up watching Hayden Fry’s Hawkeyes, and became lifelong fans from there, despite only one of the three of them actually attending. I remember being a child traveling to game days with my parents, and I thought of Iowa City as this kind of magic, faraway place. I think I fell in love with the town, and being a Hawkeye, then.

It certainly helped that my time in high school coincided with an Iowa football run that perfectly captured the extreme highs and lows of Hawkeye fandom: a 6-6 season in 2007, a 9-4 season and an Outback Bowl victory in 2008, an 11-2 season an an Orange Bowl victory in 2009, and an extremely hyped, mediocre 8-5 season with an admittedly incredible Insight Bowl victory in 2010.

I experienced Friday Night Lights from a different perspective: on the field, at halftime. And I loved it. Then Saturday would come around and I would watch the Black and Gold and go through every stage of grief and excitement in the span of 3-4 hours.

It was then that I realized fully that I wanted to attend the University of Iowa, and support my favorite team from the field in Kinnick Stadium as a member of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

I’ll spare you the details, but once that goal was in my mind, I worked my butt off to accomplish it. I attended a drumline audition camp the summer before my senior year of high school to get a leg up over the competition, and loved the environment, the camaraderie. I loved learning The Series (the drum line's signature cadence, that we play in the parking lot outside Gate B before each game, and on the way into the stadium).

I visited Iowa State and knew their drumline was pretty prestigious as well, but I could never betray my virtues. It was the only other school I visited. The campus was beautiful, the Rice Krispy Treats were good, but it didn’t feel right. I was a Hawkeye.

Once I got to Iowa City for a campus tour, the decision was made. It was the easiest one I’ve ever made, and I’m a person that can mull for far too long over way lesser decisions.

Fast forward again, and my hard work paid off: I became a member of the Hawkeye drumline as a freshman. I was in the band for two years: 2011 and 2012. My first game as a member was the monsoon game against Tennessee Tech, where we had to huddle in the players tunnel for almost an hour during a rare football rain delay.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recapture the rush of adrenaline that accompanies running onto the field for the pregame and playing the fight song as we march into the Tigerhawk formation. Or the feeling of looking into the black and gold striped stands during the 2011 night game against Northwestern. Or the feeling of jubilation and excitement of playing the fight song after a touchdown, or the exhaustion having to be peppy and play the fight song for what feels like the one millionth time during a blowout loss under the lights (I’m looking at you, 2012 Penn State game).

I’m a Hawkeye fan by birth, but being part of the HMB made my fandom something more. I felt connected to the team in a way that I’ll never feel again, and got to experience game day as an ordeal unlike any other. The family connection to the Hawkeyes means a lot, but like the SEC, being part of the HMB means just a little bit more.

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