A Heartfelt Message From “Donk”

The fallout continues from the discharge of Jonathan Waters, the Director of the Ohio State University Marching Band.

IMG_1898Jocelyn Smallwood, whose TDBITL nickname was “Donk” and whose nickname was prominently featured in the report that precipitated the dismissal, has written a lengthy letter to the new President of the Ohio State University.  It’s a great letter, and it helps to flesh out the range of emotions and reactions to the report and the dismissal.

Band members, band alumni, band parents and friends, and members of Buckeye Nation feel passionately about The Best Damn Band In The Land.  It’s one of the things that separates TBDBITL from the run of the mill college bands and makes it an elite institution.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to OSU administration that the dismissal has provoked strong reactions.

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One Band Member’s View

Every Ohio State graduate I know is proud of the Ohio State University Marching Band — which any true Buckeye knows as The Best Damn Band In The Land.  That’s why the recent report about TBDBITL, and the dismissal of band director Jonathan Waters, is very hard news to take for the members of Buckeye Nation.

One of my friends is father to a daughter, Jocelyn Smallwood, who played Sousaphone in TBDBITL and dotted the i in Script Ohio during the Michigan game — an incredible accomplishment I wrote about in this blog several years ago.  She loves the band and respects Mr. Waters — and she also happens to be mentioned in the report because her band nickname is “Donk.”

Jocelyn offers a different view on the recent report and the dismissal decision.  If you’re interested in seeing what one band member has to say about the issues, you can find Jocelyn’s thoughts here.

Dotting The i At “The Game”

If you are a Sousaphone player in Ohio, you have one overriding dream:  to one day dot the i in Script Ohio.

Script Ohio is one of the most revered traditions of the Ohio State University Marching Band — commonly known, without exaggeration, as The Best Damn Band In The Land.  In fact, Script Ohio may be the most famous band maneuver in the world.  Starting from the form of a square, the band plays “Le Regiment” and follows the drum major in order to spell out “Ohio” in cursive letters, as if the word were being written by a giant hand.  The climax comes when the drum major leads one of the senior Sousaphone player out to dot the i.  The Sousaphone player high steps out, removes his or her hat, and does a deep bow to make the dot as Ohio Stadium roars its approval.

As great as it is to dot the i, the real cherry is to dot the i in Script Ohio during The Game — Ohio State’s annual grudge match against the Michigan Wolverines. I’ve actually met the Sousaphonist who will have that tremendous honor, and the nationally televised thrill of a lifetime, during Saturday’s Big Game.  Her name is Jocelyn Smallwood, and her parents are Carl and Connie Smallwood.  TBDBITL is a strict meritocracy, and Jocelyn has worked hard to earn the acclamation that will come with dotting the i at the Michigan game.  Among the more than 100,000 screaming fans will be many members of the extended Smallwood clan, cheering Jocelyn on as she prances out to Sousaphone immortality.

Congratulations, Jocelyn!  (And Beat Michigan!)

Drum Major Dreams

My friend and partner Carl Smallwood and his wife, Connie, are just about the biggest band boosters you can imagine.  It’s no surprise, really.  Their daughter, Jocelyn, is a Sousaphone player in the Ohio State University Marching Band — The Best Damn Band In The Land — and their son, Nate, is the talented drum major for the Upper Arlington High School Marching Band.

Carl’s dream, I think, would be for Nate to become the drum major for TBDBITL next year and lead Jocelyn out to dot the “i” when the Band performs Script Ohio in the home game against Michigan next year.  How cool would that be?

It’s not an impossible dream, either.  Jocelyn is already on target to be the i-dotter for next year’s Michigan game and — as this YouTube video of Nate’s performance at a recent OSU Marching Band Skull Session indicates — he’s got the ability to make Carl’s dream a reality.