They’ve been waiting all season for this opportunity. Blood, sweat and even tears have been shed during long hours of commitment to their profession.
Sunday will not only be historic for the NFL, which will have its first Super Bowl with two black head coaches, but also for the Marching 100.
The Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts will be there for regulation, but the Marching 100 will be there between the halves. For them, halftime is game time.
The first quarter for the band began Dec. 14, when the band started preparing to play with music icon Prince in the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI.
“We have been preparing for this for a month,” said drum major Byron Jackson, 22, a senior elementary education student from Decatur, Ga. “This is a joyous experience for us. A lot of people aren’t even fortunate to watch the game on television, let alone perform in it.”
Jackson said the 100 had a technical issue that set them back for a couple of days.
“There was a minor change in the show that we had to adjust to, but it came together,” he said.
Usually, when the band practices it is heard over the entire campus. Recently, the band has played silently as they moved around in their various field positions.
Because the Marching 100 is under contract with the NFL and the FOX network, it is not allowed to disclose any information about the upcoming performance. However, the band did promise it would be of the highest caliber, like any 100 performance. Except this time, viewers can actually hear them on surround sound.
Band members like Jordan Farrar, 18, a freshman criminal justice student from Miami and Adisa Pabribje, 19, sophomore pharmacy student from Atlanta, agreed the past two weeks have been “strenuous and cold.”
Farrar, who is also the freshman “sect,” or section leader of the baritones, said, “It’s been two weeks of hard work and a lot of adjusting to balancing the marching band and classes.”Pabribje said their efforts would be displayed Sunday.
“My father once told me, ‘With recognition, comes hard work,’ so it’s definitely going to show,” Pabribje said.
Vernell Hicks, 18, a freshman chemical engineering student from Fort Lauderdale, said the practices this semester have not been as long “but every day it seems as though you go home with something.”
“I think it’s worth it in the end,” said Hicks, a member of the flag corp, “because he (Prince) could have chosen any band, but he chose the best.”
The 100 is no stranger to the Super Bowl. In 2005, the band opened for the annual game but did not get much airtime. This time the entire country will be able to see the band commercial free.
“This will be my second Super Bowl so I am ecstatic, especially since we’re playing with Prince,” said Antonio Carrion, 21, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Miami, “He’s a genius. “More importantly, since we are the financial benefactor of the University, this will give us, as well as the University, great exposure,” Carrion said.
With veterans and rookies in the band, freshman snare drum player Jeremy Battles, is looking forward to the performance. “I’m from West Palm Beach, so I’m excited about going home and getting to meet Prince,” said Battles, 18, a first-year business administration student.
Now the band is just waiting for halftime, but Battles said he’s not nervous.
“If anything, (the Super Bowl performance) gives us an opportunity to show everybody the level of our musicianship and showmanship… I’m excited,” he said.
John P. Robinson, professor of music and a member of the band staff, said he is happy for this opportunity. “It’s good to see the media is taking on a more positive outlook toward the band as well as the University,” he said. “With so many negative stigmas that have been placed on us, I’m glad to see that Prince saw past all the bad and saw the good in us.”The band left for rehearsal Wednesday, with a formal farewell from the University. The 100 is looking forward to showing the country why they are considered “the best in the land.”