OSU Marching Band, Color Guard, Cheer grateful to perform in front of fans once again

Trevor Horn , Sports Contributor

Most athletes say that they feed off of the energy from the fans, who push them to keep performing at their best. Just ask Olivia Schultz, a member of the Oregon State Colorguard team.

“Fans have such a big effect [on] everything,” Schultz said. “We [perform] for the football team, but we also do it for the fans. So, having the fans there, having the students section there, and then responding to us when we play-it makes us really happy. Coming to a school and being at a place where the student section supports the Marching Band and loves what we do and loves what we play. Oh, it’s so incredible.”

As Oregon State sporting events have begun with the Beaver football team currently at a 5-2 record, and Beaver Basketball releasing their schedules for out-of-conference and PAC-12 play, members of the marching band, color guard, and cheer teams are elated to finally have fans back in the stands, cheering them on loudly and bringing the energy teams feed off of.

The Marching Band at Oregon State is mostly known for having a halftime show at football games. And it is often a memorable experience for participants and fans alike.

Penelope Tharp, a clarinet player in the Oregon State Marching Band, said she will always remember the halftime show the marching band performed when the Beavers took the field against the University of Washington Huskies on Oct. 2.

“There was a moment near the end [of the show], I was just standing on the field… and I looked up and I could hear thousands of students singing Backstreet Boys back at us as we’re playing it to them,” Tharp said. “I got so emotional because the connection that we had in that moment… it was magic.”

The energy and enthusiasm felt in Reser Stadium that October evening was memorable. Being a part of the marching band, Tharp said she understands they have a very powerful tool at   their disposal that can help bring the community together: music.

“[Music is] a universal experience that we all can have,” Tharp said. “You put this universal language into this game that so many people love and feel unified by, and then you can feel the Corvallis community together in that moment.”

A strong community certainly makes a huge difference. Schultz said she is thrilled to have such a strong community behind her and the rest of the color guard team. She said she loves to interact with fans on game days, as it brings her satisfaction to see the support for her team  first-hand.

“I love interacting, and I know [other people in the band], they love interacting with the student section.,” Schultz said. “When I was walking off the field after halftime, I was literally giving high-fives out to people in the student section. It was just so much fun”

Schultz also said being acknowledged by the OSU community, on top of interacting with them is something she looks forward to every game. Even though some get the name of her team wrong, she still greatly values words of encouragement and support from everybody.

“I know we kind of get generalized with the band a lot, but it’s really cool when people also acknowledge us too,” Schultz said. “Like I know some people call us the flag team, which obviously is not the correct term but it’s just so cool to be acknowledged cause they’re just so supportive of everyone.”

It is not just members of the Oregon State Marching Band and Color Guard teams who feel this way, however. Parker Eggiman, a fifth-year student on the Beaver Cheer Team, said never experienced a game in Reser like the one against the Huskies.

“It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the student section filled like that in Reser [Stadium] for the five years that I’ve been on the Oregon State Cheer team,” Eggiman said. “I mean, my coach was asking all of our returners, ‘How does that game compare?’ And almost everyone, myself included, said that game is one of the most memorable games we’ve ever experienced. Not only because it was so close, but because the environment that day was just insane.”

The level of preparation and orchestration required to put on a halftime show at Reser Stadium begins weeks before kickoff. While the football team is in training camp leading up to their first gameday, the marching band has their own training camp as well, perfecting their craft and fine-tuning their routines.

“Before school starts, the drumline has two full weeks [of camp], for color guard – a week and a half, I think,” Tharp said. “And for the rest of the band, it’s a full week of camp, where it’s 12-13 hour days.”

Those training camps are dedicated to getting the songs to be played down to heart,  each step as close to perfection, and each throw of the baton or flag absolutely perfect. All of the preparation required for a performance at halftime takes a lot of teamwork, and a lot of communication.

“Sometimes we’ll have a dance team come by our rehearsal [during the week], and we’ll maybe do like one run with them,” Schultz said. “We have to be [at the stadium] five hours early… then we rehearsed for probably about two and a half hours. Then ROTC will come, cheer and dance will be there, and we’ll do what we call a full out run just so everyone’s on the same page.”

And oftentimes, it is the day of the game that is the most chaotic for the members of the Marching Band, because a lot of things are happening at once.

“The day of the game is when we have all aspects of pregame [and halftime] going on.” Schultz said.

While chaotic and crazy, gamedays for everyone serves as an opportunity to come together and cheer for the Oregon State Beavers.

Oftentimes, the OSU community that supports these different teams is referred to as “Beaver Nation”, which is a collective term that refers to the general Oregon State community, which includes OSU students, faculty, staff and members of the Corvallis community.

While there is no actual definition as to what Beaver Nation is, it can mean alot for all the different members of the Marching Band,, ColorGuard, and Cheer teams. For Tharp, Beaver Nation is the excitement the larger community has for the university.

“Beaver nation is our Corvallis community, it’s not just Oregon State,” Tharp said. “It’s the people who come into Corvallis to enjoy what we have going on. And if you’re doing that, it means you have a love for what’s going on here, you have excitement for what’s happening, and a general respect for each other.”

For Eggiman, Beaver Nation is why he  always works put the best out, doing his part to make sure that people are happy.

“[We] make sure that we’re making Beaver Nation happy, and always working with them to make sure our athletics are doing the best they can,” Eggiman said.

And for Schultz, she said that Beaver Nation is supportive of everyone, no matter what team they are on. And it’s because of this continued support that she loves performing at halftime.

It doesn’t matter who you are on the field –Color Guard or not – you’re part of the Beavers,” said Schultz.

The next time that the Oregon State Marching Band, Color Guard, and Cheer will take the field together will be on Nov. 13 at Reser Stadium, when the Oregon State Beavers face off against the Stanford Cardinal.