Since the beginning of the 2021 football/band season, the Marching 100 has been moving back and forth to whichever open field was available. They now have a space to practice drills that they can call their own.
Florida A&M University’s band has joined a select few colleges nationwide to have their own state-of-the-art artificial turf practice field.
The Student Government Association (SGA), helped to fund the roughly $810,000 surface building project. Band director Shelby Chipman gave his thanks to the SGA for their contribution at the commemoration ceremony last week.
The idea of renovating what is known as “the patch,” came from former SGA president Xavier McClinton, who said he wanted to ensure that the band had a comfortable field to practice on as a symbol of appreciation from the student body. He graduated from the university and passed the torch to current SGA president Carrington Whigham.
“We call ourselves the best, so we know that to be the best we have to have the best facilities,” Whigham told WCTV in a recent interview.
The old practice field had been there for decades. Members of the band expressed the problems they endured while marching on the field compared to now, and how the modern makeover has already enhanced their performance.
“The field wasn’t as accurate as it could’ve been making it, so we have to sometimes estimate our positions instead of it being exact,” said Graham Harris, who is part of the percussion group. “Having a place that is accurate to the majority of our performance venues will help us to put on our best shows.”
The project was manufactured by FieldTurf, a well-known artificial turf company that specializes in durability. FieldTurf has installed over 3000 fields that have lasted eight years or more. The brand new installment on FAMU’s campus has expectations of lasting just as long, with the proper maintenance and care.
Kalea Sanders, senior trombonist at FAMU, says that this milestone for the Marching 100 feels like a reward for the extensive history behind all of the band’s accomplishments.
“It is something definitely worth the investment,” Sanders said. “I am able to reap the benefits that the old heads, or alumni, sowed upon us.”
The location remains the same, but the new turf remodel allows the Marching 100 to practice their footwork in a stable environment.