From bowl games, band camps, snowy pregame and halftime shows, to particular pieces of music and enduring friendships, Cougar Marching Band alumni carry lots of fond memories. Here, they share a few favorites from throughout the past five decades.

 

Lee Ann Fordyce (’72 Comm.) lists these memories of Cougar Marching Band from 1968 to 1970

  • Learning the fight songs for the other PAC-8 schools
  • Stopping at Central to practice our halftime show on our way to Seattle for the 1969 Apple Cup. Boy, was it windy in Ellensburg!
  • Sadly, having a band director who felt we weren’t capable of marching and playing at the same time. So we moved from formation to formation to the tings of the glockenspiel.
  • Marching around the track at the old football stadium. Freshman year, only, before it was torched. That band director knew we were capable of marching and playing at the same time!
  • Top heavy white shakos. Long underwear late in the season. Bitter cold at Joe Albi 1970 Apple Cup.
  • Band Day with competing bands from numerous high schools.
  • Playing the Alma Mater at the end of every game.

 

Piccolo player Claire (Brown) Sokoloski (’90 Comm.) was in Cougar Marching Band from 1986 to 1990. In 1988, she served as the flute section leader.

“There is a large group of us that were in band between 1985 and 1991 that have remained friends to this day. Our group includes several band couples, too!” she says. “The best thing about my experience in Cougar Marching Band was meeting people that share a love of music and became lifelong friends.”

Here are some of her favorite memories:

  • The Beach Boys show from Fall 1987. We performed that show for the first game of the year and then performed it at a Seahawks game after the Apple Cup that year. It was a fun show to perform, and it was an amazing feeling to perform in front of 60,000 people in the Kingdome. Plus, I got to know my future husband during that show because we marched next to each other.
  • Traveling to Japan for the Coca Cola Bowl in 1987. Band trips are always fun but this was over the top because it was an international trip. It was so fun to experience Japan with great friends.
  • As mentioned above, we have a great group of band couples and friends. We have been getting together to watch the Apple Cup since 1992. Usually, we have a party at someone’s house but occasionally we have gone in person. We also have had summer picnics many years. Over the years we discovered we all like going to Disney (World and Land). We took our first group trip to Disneyland in 2016. In 2021, we did a 10-day trip to Disney World with a group of 12. One of our activities was doing a monorail crawl one evening in our Coug gear. We dubbed it the “trombone sectional evolved.” In February, a smaller group did a quick trip to Disneyland for Valentine’s Day. And there’s another group going to Disneyland again at the beginning of November. We have a future trip to Disney Hong Kong and Disney Shanghai in the preliminary planning stages.

 

Erick Johnson (’94 Ed.) played trombone in the Cougar Marching Band from 1989 to 1993. Here are a few of his favorite memories.

I forgot the drill. My freshman year, nationally televised game against USC, Billy Joel halftime show. I dropped my music somewhere around the 40-yard line. Like most band members, I had the drill commands written in on my music. Unfortunately, I had not memorized the drill. The guy next to me yelled the commands to me for the rest of the show so I wouldn’t get too far out of place. After that day, I made it my personal homework assignment to practice the drill on my own time, in the restroom and study area of the 11th floor of Orton Hall. Needless to say, I didn’t have that problem again!

Erick Johnson and Eric Johnson. On the first day of band camp my sophomore year, another gentleman with (almost) the same name as me showed up in the trombone section. Naturally, this led to a communication issue for the section leader. It was decided that nicknames would be used. The other Eric would be called “Goldilocks” (for his long flowing blond hair), and I would be called “Junior” (a nickname bestowed upon me my freshman year). Neither nickname stuck. The issue was actually resolved by having us in different squads for most of the next four years.

Saturday morning rehearsal. There was a game in the early ’90s where we played “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. The game was going to be televised. On Saturday morning, while we were rehearsing, the TV crew was setting up on top of the press box. At one point in the drill, we turned to face the press box. When we turned the corner, I looked up at the press box and saw the TV camera crew dancing! Apple Cup 1992, it started snowing at the end of Saturday morning rehearsal.

Musical workouts. When Eric Wiltshire (now the director of athletic bands at the University of Oregon) was our graduate assistant, he arranged a couple of pieces that were a physical workout for the brass. The first was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” for a country show, which gave the trumpets a good workout. The second was “Black Dog,” for a heavy metal show, which was a right arm workout for the trombones. Those were interesting pieces and interesting shows. I would like to think we did rather well for a roughly 85- to 90-member marching band!

 

Here are some memories of Cougar Marching Band from Brian Grabinski (’98 Crim. Jus.).

Where to begin? [My] greatest CMB story is the ’98 Rose Bowl trip from Pullman, Christmas night, to Pasadena. We had a vote of either taking a bus and having extra days in Cali or flying in a day or two before the game. We chose the road-trip. This allowed us extra practice time at a local high school field to perfect the greatest John Williams show for the game. We got to break in our new shoes prior to the Rose Bowl parade. Gave us extra time while in Cali to perform at both Universal Studios and Disneyland. Both of the Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma band frats had the opportunity to mingle with our brothers and sisters from UM. And we all choked down the In-N-Out Double Doubles we got at the finish line. Still looking for our last three seconds all these years later, but we wouldn’t change a thing from that week. Oh, on the way home, I hit a $500 slot win on a quarter machine while we were gassing up in Winnemucca.

 

Alyssa Bateman (’18 Psych.) has “a lot of memories from marching band, from the traveling, to meeting lifelong friends, to even getting stuck in El Paso, Texas, after my first bowl game.” Here’s her favorite, plus an honorable mention—and more.

I think my favorite memory continues to be the feeling of running out onto the field for pregame and seeing a sea of crimson and gray cheering for the Cougs. I will never get over the excitement or experiences I had with the Cougar Marching Band or witnessing some of the most amazing football comebacks I’ve ever seen.

Honorable mention: As a scared freshman who was going into sign-in for band camp, I thought it was going to take longer than it did. I called my mom to see if she would come back and have lunch with me because I wasn’t ready to be 6.5 hours away from her. She said that she had already gotten on the freeway and couldn’t turn around. Little did I know, she turned around about four times before finally letting me go for real.

I fell in love with WSU from the first time I saw the campus, even at -14 degrees and snowing. I knew I was going to be a future Coug. I’d do anything to do it over again and to be back on campus for classes. I will take these two quotes to the grave: “Once a Coug, always a Coug,” and “We always find our way back home!”

 

Are we missing your favorite Cougar Marching Band memory? Email your stories to wsm@wsu.edu. Thank you and Go Cougs!

 

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