As Homecoming weekend approaches, both past and current band members tune up their instruments in preparation for this weekend's halftime performance. Alumni are brought back to the field to reconnect with old friends and relive the memories that made their college experience special.
Mike Carpenter, Homecoming chair for the alumni band, played trombone in high school and was inspired to go to Ohio University because of his band director.
“I would say the relationships, friendships (is the best part of being in the band),” Carpenter said.
He not only formed friendships, but he met his wife, a fellow trombone player in the band as well. Carpenter said that he, like many others, chooses to come back and play because of those relationships.
Carpenter, who lives in Athens, said not everybody can come every year. He said he hasn’t been every year because of his children’s events.
“You get to see people you haven't seen a while you catch up, you have fun. Plus, there's still that rush when you go out on the field and the crowd comes to its feet,” Carpenter said.
Due to the large number of alumni that come back to play, the logistics can get a little tricky. Carpenter said an average of 300 people return to OU to play for halftime and around 600 come for other big events.
Carpenter said the hardest part of returning is keeping up with the difference in the game, such as time of game, the rules on getting into the game and all of the logistics.
The band does more than just Homecoming weekend. Carpenter said they also perform at women’s volleyball games.
“We played at Homecoming for several years, and then it's been 14 years ago, the then volleyball coach came to some alumns and asked if they could put together a band to play volleyball games,” he said. “The volleyball season is in the fall and the marching 110 is really busy… so we play at home volleyball matches, go to the MAC tournament and then we play other... community service events.”
Despite the number of events they perform at and the amount of members, Carpenter said it’s much more low-commitment than being a student in the band.
“All of us have families and jobs and most of the people who play in varsity band for volleyball games don't live here, so they drive here for the weekend,” Carpenter said. “It’s one thing to drive here for a Homecoming weekend, it’s a trip. You planned it and you have accommodations and all that stuff. But a lot of the alumni varsity band members don't live here. So they are doing that, you know, multiple times during the fall season. But it's not nearly the commitment. You can come and play one weekend, and that's it.”
The alumni band also piques the interest of current Marching 110 Members. Josh Green, a member of the band and a junior studying integrated media, said he will definitely be joining the alumni band.
Green said he was first introduced to the Marching 110 during his freshman year of high school.
“It was my goal to be apart of the 110,” Green, who plays snare drum, said in an email. “Now that I’ve been in the band for three years, it seems like my time is starting to run out. I know that I’m going to miss being in this band and that’s why I know I’m going to come back and play after I graduate.”
Green said that many alumni likely have similar experiences to his own.
“They all made incredible memories during their time in the 110 and they want to relive those moments even if its only for one weekend every year,” he said. “Plus, some alumni haven’t seen each other for 10 plus years! It’s great for current members to get to meet all of the alumni and I’m sure it’s a cool experience for the alumni to see who’s marching in a spot they used to be in.”
Students outside of the 110 love the alumni band as well.
“I love the alumni band, I love going to the game to see them and the actual 110 playing together,” Kelsey Rader, a sophomore studying chemical engineering said. “Every year I go.”