75 band members will travel to USC
John Paul Witt | Tuesday, November 21, 2006
On a mission to help the Fighting Irish bring home a victory, 75 members of the Notre Dame Band will perform at the Notre Dame-USC football game Saturday – a trip planned at the request of head football coach Charlie Weis.
Band officials did not comment on funding for the group’s last-minute trip to Los Angeles, but assistant band director Lawrence Dwyer said they were “delighted” to be able to make the trip.
The USC-bound band will consist primarily of members who play easily heard instruments – mostly brass and percussion – and of the most experienced and dedicated juniors and seniors, said band vice president Michelle Manrique.
Last month, band director Ken Dye received a personal call from Weis to ask if it was possible to send part of the band with the football team to the USC game, Dwyer said. Junior and senior band members were encouraged to apply, Dwyer said, and those with the most seniority and loudest instruments were selected.
“We’re not going to have fun. We’re going to give our team the edge,” said senior drum major Brad Fleming.
The band will fly out at 8 a.m. Saturday from Chicago-O’Hare airport, perform at a pre-game pep rally organized by the Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles near the Coliseum at Brewer Park, and play on the sideline during the entire game, Dwyer said.
They will not, however, play at halftime and will not dress in their uniforms, which are being dry cleaned in preparation for Notre Dame’s probable BCS bowl appearance. The band will return early Sunday morning.
The impact of the band on the football team’s performance became clear, Dwyer said, after the Sept. 23 Michigan State game.
In a handwritten note that hangs outside the band office, Weis wrote, “You helped us defeat Michigan State, [and] will help us perform our best [at USC].”
But why are only 75 members allowed to go?
Dwyer said the cap is a regulation imposed on Notre Dame by USC’s fire marshal for safety concerns. The 75 members includes both members and directors, Dwyer said, noting that the directors will be bringing their instruments as well so they can “play loud.”
The band has not traveled to USC in more than four years, Fleming said. Members are going this time, he said, because of Weis’ direct request.
Dwyer believes the band’s music can have a powerful effect on the team.
“[Football] is a game of emotion,” he said. “The songs of Notre Dame give the team an extra push.”