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The road home

Jan. 3, 2008

By Jensen Mecca, Pride of Oklahoma Blogger

It's a beautiful day in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Pride is soon to be on the road again.  We leave with some decidedly mixed feelings.

The game yesterday was nothing if not disappointing.  Our Sooners have had a fantastic season, and it was a shame to see them so frustrated by West Virginia.  However, I've yet to see a football team without its occasional bad day, and ours has primarily made us proud this year. 

Despite a rather disappointing response from our crowd, many fans gave up on the Sooners and decided to leave the stands early to beat the traffic,  the Pride stuck with the team until the last seconds; playing "Boomer Sooner" until we thought our faces would fall off.  I'm proud and honored to be a part of an organization that stays true until the end, bitter though that end may be.

Yesterday's loss may have dampened our spirits, but I can't help but feel that this has been a great trip.  Playing the cool mellophone part in "Wind and the Lion" with every ounce of sound I could muster; nailing the dance break in "Thriller" in front of a screaming crowd; laughing around a table loaded with tacos and enchiladas with some of my best friends and throwing my heart into the football game in the last minute of play, knowing that we didn't have a chance--this week will be one to remember.

We turned in our uniforms this morning, meaning we won't don the crimson and cream again until next September.  This has been an amazing season, and I must admit that I'm sad to see it go.  However, next year is sure to be exciting, and I can't wait to see what lies in store for the band and the football team in 2008. 

Until then, happy New Year and Boomer Sooner!

Jan. 2, 2008

It's game day!

Although I'm very excited about getting to play at the football game today, it feels like I've got a relaxing day ahead by comparison to the past 24 hours.

I had the very great privilege to try out for drum major yesterday, which was an amazing, if nerve-wracking, experience. I'd prepared for the audition quite a bit over the break, and the opportunity to show my peers what I've practiced was an outstanding one, a chance I wouldn't pass up for the world. However, I must say that I'm very relieved to have survived yesterday and to find myself getting ready for a fun day supporting the Sooners.

Happily, we're not required on the buses until 11:30 this morning, giving us plenty of time to eat breakfast and get ready for the game. We'll perform in a wide variety of pep events today, including a parade throughout the area around the stadium with stops to play for crowds. It will be a long day to say the least, but we're all pumped - this is what we do, and we're excited and proud to be here.

The game promises to be a good one and we can't wait to get started. Boomer Sooner!

Jan. 1, 2008

By Jensen Mecca, Pride of Oklahoma Blogger

Happy New Year!

Last night, the band attended one of my favorite events of the trip: the Insight Fiesta Bowl Block Party. Following our afternoon rehearsal, we boarded the buses, changed into our uniforms - often a challenging feat with little elbowroom and lots of windows - and headed to downtown Tempe. We marched through the twinkle light-strewn streets in the pre-party parade, finishing in front of the Insight Mainstage for a battle of the bands against West Virginia.

The Mountaineer Marching Band sounded fantastic, although we did cheer when we saw their flip folders - the Pride memorizes all of the songs in its repertoire, so we leave our music in our cases, a point that we tend to emphasize in competitive settings. The battle of the bands was great, with all of us shoved shoulder to shoulder and playing our lungs out. There's nothing cooler than a huge crowd of excited band people.

After the battle, we headed back to the buses to change into our New Year's Eve finest. We had the rest of the night to enjoy the block party, which included 40 bands, a carnival, and lots of small shows and attractions. I hung out with a group composed largely of mellophones - we tend to stick together - and had a great time.

We got ice cream, cheered on one of our number in an air guitar competition - he did an excellent job - and settled in with hot chocolate to watch Barenaked Ladies, the headline band, and wait for the countdown to midnight.

Barenaked Ladies, one of my favorite bands from back in the day, put on a great show, although we were all more than a little chilly watching it.
The fireworks show at midnight, however, was by far my favorite part of the evening. I listened to Barenaked Ladies play "Auld Lang Syne" and watched the gorgeous show overhead, surrounded by some of my closest friends. It was truly a night to remember.

Now, only one more day until the big game! Boomer Sooner!

Dec. 29, 2007

By Jensen Mecca, Pride of Oklahoma Blogger

What a busy day! We donned our uniforms for the first time this morning to march in the Fiesta Bowl Parade.

Although the event proved to be a test of our physical abilities - parades can be exhausting, and many of us have done nothing more trying than unwrap presents since the end of the semester.

The parade provided us with a great opportunity to interact with Sooner
fans. We made sure to search for crimson and cream attire in the crowd; smiling faces and enthusiastic cheers always help remind us of the impact we have on others who are here to support our university.

We had a brief break in the afternoon followed by our second rehearsal of the trip. This time, we moved to a high school facility elsewhere in Scottsdale that was fully equipped with football field lines. This rehearsal was much more satisfying than
last night's - we covered a huge amount of ground relatively quickly, relearning the drill for our opener, "Wind and the Lion," and rehearsing music for the New Year's Eve block party in an extremely short period of time.

The sun set behind the mountains while we practiced, providing an amazing backdrop for our accomplishment. After rehearsal, we changed clothes and then hopped back on the buses for a night at an outdoor mall. I came very close to falling asleep at the table at dinner; it's a good thing we get to sleep in tomorrow morning! Early store closings precipitated
our hasty return to the buses for the ride back to our hotel, where we're currently about to turn in for the night.

Until tomorrow- Boomer Sooner!

Dec. 28, 2007

By Jensen Mecca, Pride of Oklahoma Blogger

It's good to be playing with the Pride again! We just got back from our first rehearsal of the trip at the Horizon High School stadium. The long night on the bus seemed to have everyone moving a little slower than usual, and we were hindered somewhat in our original rehearsal plans by the fact that the field was lined for soccer, not football. However, we rose to the occasion and had a great practice despite these obstacles.

It's always amazing to see how fast the band gets back into the swing of things. We rehearsed the sequence of songs we use for parades in advance of our performance tomorrow morning, reminding me of the great time we had marching in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City this November.

Although it felt great to recall our adventure earlier this season, the highlight of the practice was definitely our run-through of the dance break from "Thriller." We first performed this crowd-pleaser during halftime at the game versus Texas A&M, and the contrast between our approach and that of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band made it an extremely fun and memorable experience. I'm really excited that we're brushing the dust off of "Thriller" for the Fiesta Bowl.

Well, we've stocked the hotel mini-fridge with groceries, we've got all of our luggage and our uniforms moved up to our rooms, and, after a long day of bus travel, we're glad to be in for the night. Our only responsibility now is to catch up on sleep lost on the road. We'll need it for tomorrow - Fiesta Bowl activities start bright and early. Until then, Boomer Sooner!

Dec. 27, 2007

By Jensen Mecca, Pride of Oklahoma Blogger

The big day is finally here.  We're on the road again.

My name is Jensen Mecca, and I'm a sophomore mellophone player with the Pride of Oklahoma.  Because this is my second season to march with the band, it's also my second time to travel to Phoenix, Ariz., to support the Sooners at the Fiesta Bowl.  We had a great time on the trip last year, and I'm really excited to be headed back to Scottsdale, where we'll be staying this week.

One of the best parts of any bowl trip, however, takes place before we ever depart for the long drive.  We've all been home with our families for the holidays, and many of us haven't seen our Norman friends since we left for the break.  Climbing onto the bus today, I was greeted with dozens of familiar faces.  While we all appreciated the chance to relax at home, it's great to be back among friends once more.

Now that everyone's settled in, we're headed for Arizona, one mile - and one movie - at a time.  The Pride travels in style on charter buses with overhead televisions, perfect for movie marathons.  Thanks to the ample collection of DVDs we've compiled, this drive should be over in no time, although our itineraries would have us believe otherwise.  We're not scheduled to arrive in Scottsdale until 1:00 tomorrow afternoon, a schedule that includes almost 24 hours of time on and off the bus, with breaks for meals.  That means we'll be sleeping on the move tonight.  However, we can't complain; it's what we do, and we're happy to be here.

Everybody's packed, loaded, comfortable and ready to head to sunny Arizona.  With a week of fun and football ahead, we're thrilled to be on the road.  Let's see what West Virginia has to offer!  Boomer Sooner!

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