As a member of the Shippensburg University Red Raider Marching Band (SUMB), I spend my Saturday afternoons in the stands and on the field musically supporting and entertaining the players and fans at Seth Grove Stadium.
However, the stands will remain empty this fall. No games, no halftime shows or alma mater played.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic caused Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) officials to suspend all athletic events and championships through the fall semester.
This decision was unwanted but expected. It follows those of other conferences like the Patriot and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Officials said they hope to reschedule the season for the spring 2021 semester but it will not be the same as a traditional season
A major part of the Saturday college football experience is the marching band. It’s more than a group of people who gather once a week to put on a performance. The SUMB’s main philosophy is being one big family. Band members perform because they are passionate about music. Shippensburg is the only PSAC college that does not offer a music major.
Despite the postponement of the season, The SUMB is planning to continue to gather to play music.
As a sophomore, I still have two seasons left to perform in the drumline with the band. While I was disappointed, I will eventually have the opportunity to take the field at halftime.
However, this year’s seniors do not have that luxury. Many SUMB seniors were devastated when they heard the news. These are perspectives from five seniors:
Matthew Zemba, band president and front ensemble member, said he was disappointed when he heard the news.
“I’ve been a part of this organization for three years now. It was hard to hear that things would not be the same as in previous years,” he said.
Zemba explained the number of people who come to games at Seth Grove Stadium at SU is because of the school spirit and pride shown every weekend.
Zemba mentioned that section leaders would need to take responsibility for their section members when cleaning their instruments after every rehearsal.
Zemba said that everyone is anxious to go back no matter how much they want to show it.
Allysen Wesner, vice president of bands and a saxophone section member, said that leadership’s main goal is to try and hold the traditions established for the last three years but also find new ways to stay safe and comfortable during band rehearsal.
Wesley Hoffner, who plays in the low brass section, said that the decision to postpone the season was a smart one.
He noted how professional sports leagues can have all their players remain in a “bubble” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This cannot be replicated at the collegiate level, since students must attend academic classes throughout the week before traveling to another university for a game or competition.
The coronavirus is often spread through the air by breath particles. This type of transmission presents an issue for a band that includes breath-powered wind instruments.
Hoffner mentioned how brass players generate spit from their instruments and have to have options to safely dispose of the bodily fluid. He said each instrumentalist could have a personal bucket that the player places their instrument as close as possible to the bucket to limit the spread.
Another idea includes bell covers for the brass. Hoffner suggests to make a move now to purchase bell covers since they are in high demand for bands all over the world.
Hoffner said he feels returning to campus will not go as well as anticipated but he is looking forward to seeing his friends and band members.
Color guard member Savannah Elder said that despite the frustrations of wearing a mask or shield, she thinks members will abide by the rule. “My hope is we can all come together and be respectful enough of one another’s health to enjoy what we’re able to do together as a family” Elder said.
Elder is worried that some students will not be careful once they are back on campus. However, she is not concerned with members of the SUMB, since they see each other numerous times in a week.
Drumline member Leah Fuoco said that she is not worried too much. She said when it comes to academics, the university will be smart with class sizes. Fuoco said she is concerned about how some buildings are going to operate, especially the Ceddia Union Building (CUB).
Asst. Arts and Entertainment Editor Ryan Cleary is a member of the Shippensburg University Red Raider Marching Band.