Band marches into enemy territory for first road game performance in decades

The Pride of Minnesota Marching Band will be making its first appearance at a road game since 1996 on Saturday in Nebraska.

The University of Minnesota Marching Band cheers on the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 30. The Gophers defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 48-10.

Jack Rodgers

The University of Minnesota Marching Band cheers on the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 30. The Gophers defeated the New Mexico State Aggies 48-10.

by Paul Hodowanic

On Saturday, the Gophers will take on Nebraska in a hostile Memorial Stadium looking for their fourth win of the season and their first in Big Ten play. For the first time in over two decades, though, the players on the field will have a little help. 

The University of Minnesota Marching Band will travel to Lincoln to take part in gameday activities, including a performance of their new “Stranger Things” themed halftime show. This is the band’s first trip to a road venue in the regular season since 1997. 

“Our band is awesome,” said junior linebacker Kamal Martin. “It’s always a fun environment to play in.”

The band will arrive in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday and take part in their normal pregame practices, including rehearsal time with the Nebraska marching band to get ready to play the “Star-Spangled Banner” together on game day. 

“We are really excited to be able to travel finally; we’re happy that we actually got funding to do that,” said sophomore trumpeter Jackson Winter. “I think it should give us a good opportunity to realize what a cool organization we have and getting to show off that organization in front of 60 or 70,000 Nebraska fans.”

Traveling to away games has been a longterm goal for Betsy McCann since she started as director of marching and athletic bands three years ago. But it didn’t become a realistic option until fundraising efforts gained steam last year, she said.

“We had interest in [traveling] for years, but it has just been so expensive. The band has gotten so big, and it just costs so much to make a trip happen,” McCann said. “Last year, when we found out we were going to play for the Super Bowl halftime show, we thought, ‘OK, we can use this big exposure to kickstart fundraising for something,’ and travel seemed like the obvious thing.”

Now that they have the necessary funding and exposure, the program hopes to build on this trip and continue to travel in the future. 

“We are working with our fundraising to build an endowment so we’ll have the money in the bank to travel as much as it allows us,” McCann said. “The end goal is to get $2 million in the endowment and then we can travel once a year.”

The band members are excited for the trip. 

“Everybody is more excited than words can really say,” said Tanner Binczak, a sophomore trombonist. 

Senior trumpeter Eric Elert sees the opportunity as a culmination of the hard work the band has put into gaining exposure for the program over the past several years.

“I feel really proud,” Elert said. “Obviously, we had the Super Bowl last year, but we’ve have some videos go viral because we are working really hard and I think part of the reason we got the money to do this is because of what we put in.”

After the trip this weekend, the band hopes there will be more in store for years to come. 

“I hope that us going and having a successful trip will allow this to be something that not only becomes a focus for the band, but for athletics and the University,” Elert said. 

Correction: An earlier edition of this story said the band last traveled in 1996. They last traveled to a road regular season game in 1997.