Athletic Department Limits Band Attendance for Football

With 32 Marching Thunder members out of 160, only a fifth of the band were allowed to attend the football game Saturday in uniform. 

According to the athletic department, in addition to the reduction of band members, the department also has to strictly limit the number of people on the sidelines, skyboxes, media attendance and the fans overall. These limits were set in consultation with Marshall Health experts as well as state and county public health officials. 

“It is important to understand that the footprint set aside for the band has not changed from previous seasons,” Leah Payne, communications director, said. “But because of the need to spread band members out and provide distance from other spectators, there simply cannot be as many people in that space”.

The news spread fast through a public Facebook post of Julie Carper, assistant band director at Cabell Midland High School, that had more than 200 shares in less than 24 hours. The post explained the department’s decision and provided the contact information of Marshall president, Jerome Gilbert, and Jaime Taylor, Marshall senior vice president of academic affairs,  to allow the community to express opinions regarding the decision. 

Carper attended Marshall and has had football tickets on the 50-yard line for the past 25 years.  

“I just really appreciate the Marching Thunder for their commitment,” Carper said. “This year has really been a rollercoaster”. 

Carper said she is surprised to see how everyone has responded to the post and how much the community appreciates the band.  

The Marching Thunder director, Christopher Schletter, said he wants to stay open-minded to provide ways for his students to engage in a safe and healthy environment. 

“I was a little disappointed, but we are currently living in a severely abnormal time,” Schletter said. “The band is taking it one game at a time”.

The band rehearsals will be adjusted to fit the first game requirements, but all members will be involved in the rest of the rehearsals.

Due to the member limit, a Marching Thunder senior will not be able to perform the first football game of their last season. 

“Personally, this decision hurts me because I have worked for four years to reach one of the top leadership spots in the band,” Patrick Carte, Marching Thunder drum major, said. “I have been through three prior seasons and have put in a countless amount of blood, sweat, and tears into my performances to hype up the entire fan base for the football games”.

Carte said this pandemic will not last forever; however, the decisions made today will have a lifetime impact.

Xena Bunton can be contacted at [email protected].