Where to begin, what to say, how much to cover…heck start at the beginning and take you through the day for it was INCREDIBLE!
The equipment truck needed to be unloaded by 9:30 AM so the percussion bus left Newark, DE at 6:45 while the rest of the band was most likely still asleep! At exactly 9:00 AM (I’m still shocked!!) the other 6 buses departed for Annapolis, MD. We have NEVER, EVER, EVER, left on time–EVER! But we did today!!! The only bad part was that we left in the rain.
Throughout the 2 hour drive I kept hitting refresh on the new weather application I installed on my Treo. There was every indication, and absolutely no change in the forecast: Annapolis was calling for total clearing by 12 noon. Meanwhile it was raining sideways (not kidding), we were traveling at no more than 40 mph and I really thought it was time to stop the buses and build an ark! So I stayed in my new waterproof Salomon shoes, Gore Tex pants and Gore Tex jacket.
At 11: 15 we arrived in Annapolis—and the rain stopped. We unloaded the buses, put on the rain plumes (I was NOT tempting fate!!!), and the skies started to clear. I went back to the bus, changed into my suit….and found I left my good shoes home, along with me sunglasses……and as I stepped off the bus in my MAROON waterproof shoes with (yes alums, I know, time for something new) my forest green sui, the sun came out and every single cloud disappeared! (but we STILL kept the rain plumes on!!!)
Navy was perfect in every way. They were hospitable, accommodating, helpful, eager to assist, etc. You name it and they were it. “CLASS” is the only way to describe the complete experience they provided. From the brigade parade entrance to the Navy jet fly over to start the game, and through to the end with a stunning victory by UD (yes, if you hadn’t heard, UD beat Navy!) everything about the day was effortless!
The band performed “Stars and Stripes” (come on gang, what else would you think I would program for this trip?) at halftime to the away stands and the Navy Drum and Bugle Corps performed a beautiful arrangement of “America, the Beautiful” to the midshipmen side (home stands). Many of the UDMB members wanted to run around to the other side of the stadium to watch and support the D&B but time was tight and it made more logistical sense to stay put–they run an magnificently tight operation at that stadium and it would not have been prudent on our part to disrupt it.
The game was a nail biter to say the least. Final score 59-52. Essentially whoever had the ball last would win. And with the help of a stop on downs, and a fumble recovery, UD came out victors in the end.
Now, Navy has a tradition at the end of every game, win or lose. Both teams join all the midshipmen and sing the Naval Academy’s Alma Mater. Then the visiting team is supposed to do their Alma Mater. I was unaware of this tradition….and Coach Keeler decided to put a spin on it! We had agreed that we would only play the Fight Song and have the team join us for it after a win in our home stadium. Never after a loss and never on the road. So when I saw Omar Cuff running full out toward me yelling “Get to the Band! Get to the Band!” I almost had a stroke—mainly because I thought I was about to be run over and killed by a living, breathing, freight train! But the team gathered around the band, the battery–who were on the other side of the field moving the pit–came racing over and we played (and the team sang) the Fight Song just like it was a home victory.
But then, the neatest thing happened:
I saw we were losing the audience so I yelled for the band to get out on the field and save as many of them as possible–they didn’t know we were going to do a post game show! The team had already started to head toward the exit, which was right in the path of the band getting on the field. And as the band started racing for their sets, a bunch of the players said, “Stop! Let them get out there!” And the team stopped.
Post game was exciting and tight! There were about 1000 people who stayed, not many by our usual post game standards, but they were wonderfully appreciative and I am STILL getting emails from many of them expressing their enjoyment and appreciation of the band’s performance.
Dinner was at the Annapolis Mall (talk about an outrageous food court!) and we got home around 9:45 PM.
All is all an simply perfect day!