This season, The Shepherd University Rams football team fought their way to the NCAA Division II National Championship game against Northwest Missouri State University. The game was played in Kansas City, Kansas (Yes, it’s real. It’s a half hour or so outside of the other KC.) While the football team got to fly over, the Ram Band, cheerleaders, and fans had to drive it by bus. The buses for the band and cheer team were funded by an athletic department fundraiser, called “Band on the Run” (the fan bus was a separate fund). This trip is an all told 18 hour drive from Shepherd to KCK, including restroom stops, refueling the buses, driver changes, and food stops. 

Shepherd University Athletics school logo. Credit: Shepherd University Athletics

How did we all pass the time? Well, considering we had to be on campus by 4:30 in the morning on December 18th, most of the band and cheerleaders tried to get some much needed sleep in the first four or so hours of the trip. Whenever we were all awake, most were talking with the people around them, some listened to music, or played games, either word games or on handheld systems.  The Land of Doubles word game that four friends and I played went on for five hours consecutively, from about 6 or 7 in the evening to around 11 or midnight when we finally arrived at the hotel. Some of the stuff we discussed about sounded philosophical, but mostly us trying to figure stuff out to keep the game going due to boredom, but lack of wanting to sleep.  We spent the night in Kansas City, Missouri and arrived at the hotel around 11 or 12 in the evening. My roommates and I stayed up until almost 3 in the morning playing Cards Against Humanity.

The next day, we left the hotel around 10 in the morning and travelled the rest of the way to Kansas City, Kansas. Arriving at Sporting Park, we stayed on the buses and were given lunch, provided by a barbeque restaurant across from the stadium. We had to sit on the bus for about two hours or so while waiting for tailgaters, officials, and the teams to show up. We got off around 2ish and got prepared for a pep rally for the fans. We had a cool experience and got to join up with the NwMSU Marching band and performed the song, Hey Baby, with them. It was fun considering we dispersed into our respective sections and got to chat a little bit with them before and after performing the song. It was fun to get to know some of their members. Around 4 we entered the stadium. The Ram band unfortunately, got stuck in a wedge of seating, away from the Shepherd fans. 

Ram band in the Wedge. Photo by: uknown
My POV in the wedge during warm-ups.


The marching band performance was a little surreal because almost all of us who cared about the outcome of the game were really pissed off by the time we got into the tunnel to perform. While waiting, NwMSU scored twice, once on an interception return and the other from an offensive touchdown. The game itself was a disaster for the football team. Due to time constraints, the time to perform was cut to six minutes per band, so we only performed three songs from our show, We Came to Play by Tower of Power, September by Earth, Wind, and Fire, and finally, Uptown Funk by MARK RONSON (not Bruno Mars).  After the game concluded and NwMSU’s band played their fight song, we played ours, and then sang the Alma Mater, as is tradition in Ram Band, win or lose.

The Ram Band singing the Alma Mater after the game. Photo by: Unknown

The game itself was a disaster for the football team. I actually ran into a football player in the game zone on campus when we arrived back on Monday, the 11th of January and talked about the game a little. He pointed the blame to favoritism of the starting quarterback, whom was injured, instead of starting the backup, who was healthy. Shepherd lost the game 34-7. 

            The NwMSU fans were really friendly and nice. They were shocked to hear the band and cheer team had to bus it back straight from the game another 18 hour drive. They congratulated us on making it this far and hoped to see us next year. The drive back from the game was one of pure indifference. Some of us bitched about the outcome of the game, most tried to sleep, others that were awake just did their routine from the trip up. Most, if not all, called family and friends when we boarded the bus. 

            We arrived back on campus at 2:30 in the afternoon on the 20th. The first thing most people discussed about was whether or not they were keeping the shoes we used for the show (Lemon Yellow Converses). All of us were happy that they didn’t have to wear them again.
I have to say, for my senior and final year of Ram Band, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Marching band has played such a huge and important part in my life and it has helped mold me into the person I have become.


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