I took a friend to his first-ever game at the Ohio Stadium today. He got to see the Buckeyes beat up on a hapless Kent State team, 66-0, and was introduced to all of the great traditions that surround Ohio State football.
Although he was impressed by the football team’s score, what really blew him away was The Best Damn Band In The Land. It was alumni band weekend, and 800 of the former members of TBDBITL returned for a chance to march and play on hallowed ground once more. When they marched in before the start of the game, the alumni bandies covered the entire field. And whew! What a massive, colossal sound when about a thousand brass instruments and drums start to play I Want To Go Back To Ohio State in unison!
The band’s show ended with the quadruple Script Ohio — three of which were performed by alumni band members. When the 4 “i”s got dotted and the sousaphone players bowed to the crowd, the place went up for grabs.
Here’s a sign of how much Ohio State fans like their band. At halftime, people actually stay in their seats to watch the band’s show. It’s only in the few minutes between the end of the band’s show and the start of the second half that there’s a mad stampede for the bathrooms.
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.
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.
Friend and faithful blog reader Mike N. went to the Windy Cities last night and sent along this classic picture of The Best Damn Band In The Land performing a double Script Ohio at last night’s game. It’s always great to see TBDBITL do Script Ohio in Ohio Stadium; it’s even more of a treat to see the Band perform their signature piece on the road.
It would be interesting to see what the Buckeyes’ record is for Big Ten games when the Band is in attendance. I imagine it is pretty good — the Band always seem to give the football team a lift.