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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Marching Thunder Can Take 50 to Bowl Game

Courtesy of @marshallu on Instagram
The Marching Thunder performing at the ‘Party on the Plaza’ event on Friday, Sep. 29.

The Herd’s musical presence on the bowl field will be smaller this year.

After a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5, about the upcoming Frisco Bowl, students and faculty of Marshall’s Marching Thunder were informed that they would not be attending the game.

Student musician Allicyn Garris, who chose Marshall University to fulfill her dream of being in the band, was disappointed to hear the news.

“I was really heartbroken,” she said. “We’ve been waiting the whole season in hopes to go to a bowl game because we’ve heard how amazing it is.”

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“When the team won on Saturday, we all got excited because we were like, ‘We’re going to a bowl game,’’’ she said. 

However, a second meeting was called on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 6. During that time, the Marching Thunder was told that they could take 50 members to the Tuesday, Dec. 19, game in Frisco, Texas.

The list of traveling students was released to the band on Wednesday evening. Of those 50 members, most are seniors, student leaders and upperclassmen, according to cymbal instructor Marlee Kaiser.

The band’s director, Dr. Christopher Schletter, is included in the 50. 

Kaiser, a Marching Thunder alumna, attended three bowl games as a student musician. She referred to those trips as “life-changing” experiences.

“I would love for all of them to experience it,” she said. “I am always going to fight for them.”

According to Garris, other university officials were in attendance at the virtual meeting Wednesday, including Dr. Maria Gindhart, the dean of the College of Arts and Media and additional directors from the School of Music.

There was no direct message from Marshall Athletics.

In the bowl-eligible teams of the Sun Belt Conference, Marshall was the only team to not have their band along for the ride, according to Garris.

“Before the 49-member change, we were the only team in our conference for the bowl that wasn’t bringing our band,” Garris said. “We kinda felt embarrassed that we were the only band to not show up.”

The University posted a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 6, addressing the recent decisions, saying that a lack of funds and distance were to blame.

“Success can bring its own set of challenges, and, in this case, the most significant challenge is the travel distance and associated costs of taking along all members of the affiliated groups,” the statement said. “The conference allocations do not cover all these additional, significant expenses.”

Later that same day, Marshall Athletics issued a statement on social media from Athletic Director Christian Spears. 

“I wish I had been more clear with the options available for the band to attend the Frisco Bowl,” he said in the statement. “I am grateful for the passion and leadership we have here at Marshall.”

Marshall Athletics attached a link to donate to the School of Music with the statement from Spears.

Garris said that with her past high school band not receiving much recognition or respect, she had higher hopes for collegiate-level band. 

“I honestly feel less respected now,” she said. “I was expecting a little bit more.”

However, Garris and Kaiser were pleasantly surprised to see the amount of attention the band received on social media platforms.

“When I heard that we weren’t going, I thought it was just gonna get brushed over,” Garris said, “but seeing the uproar that the community has started just really kind of warmed my heart.”

“I don’t think anyone expected, including myself, the hundreds of shares and comments defending the band,” Kaiser said. “It kind of blew up.”

Schletter posted a statement on a Marching Thunder alumni social media page Thursday, Dec. 7, calling the situation “not ideal.”

“We are not the only band program in the country going through this, but that also doesn’t justify the result either,” he said in the statement. “And though the current situation is not ideal, it’s better than zero Marching Thunder presence at the bowl game.”

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    Wendy LeeDec 8, 2023 at 8:32 am

    Wow Marshall University. It’s very sad to see the band being treated like this. Once in a lifetime experience and you’re penalizing the kids. Embarrassing… Totally. I know you can do better. #bebetter I’ve been to 4 bowl games and seeing the band and hearing them makes me proud to be a Herd! Come on. What do you need?