The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Marching Band was formed in 1964 and the group was originally called the Marching Chiefs. A year after the UWL adopted the eagle mascot in 1989, the group became known as The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Screaming Eagles Marching Band. Today the band is under the direction of Dr. Tammy Fisher, and they perform on campus for home football games and in the community at events like the Oktoberfest Parade. Over the years, the band went through evolutions in size and performance that created the Screaming Eagles that exist today.
Christian Schommer, UWL senior and member of the Screaming Eagles, said: “We really are the epitome of a college marching band. We’re strong musically, we look good and we sound good, but at the end of the day, we know we’re here to put on a show. We’re here to piss everyone off and make sure they have a great time at the game. There is a lot of energy and a lot of awkwardness. It’s everything you could look for in a college marching band.
In preparation for home football games, the Screaming Eagles parade from the Truman T. Lowe Center for the Arts to Roger Harring Stadium at the Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex as the drum line plays the beat. They then stop outside the stadium to play catchy tunes for the hookers before heading inside. Schommer said his favorite part of being with the Screaming Eagles is performing at football games to energize the crowd. Dr Tammy Fisher said: “There’s something about playing music and entertaining people and making them happy. There is something intangible there. It makes you feel good to make others feel good.
Asked about their experience with the band’s upperclassmen, UWL freshman and marching band member AZ Bohl said, “The first day I went on drums, I had a stressful audition experience, but all the upperclassmen told me it was okay. The upper class students were mentors and helped the under class students feel safe when we were feeling stressed from our first year of college marching band.
While Dr. Fisher is the band’s director, she said the heart and soul of the band are the upper classes involved in student leadership. She said, “We just voted on major drums for next year, and now we have to interview students who have signed up to become student leaders, and we have 36 students we are interviewing for leadership positions. So that tradition remains strong, and it’s great that so many students want to step up and do that.
Schommer is a student leader for the Screaming Eagles drum line. He said the Screaming Eagles are committed to tradition. He said, “The drum line is an interesting band. In general, the marching band is big on tradition. We all have our traditions, and the drum line more than the rest of the band. Every day during drumline camp, we go to Rudy’s on Thursdays. Why? Because that’s where we go to Rudy’s. It’s been like that for ten years, so that’s what we do. And similarly, someone decided at some point that we were going to give everyone in the drum line a nickname, and that’s how they’re going to do all of their time here. So as far as the process goes, if you want to know how we get our nicknames, you need to join drumline. It’s like that. It’s a secret!”
According to Bohl, the fun one has within the Screaming Eagles community is the best part of the experience. Bohl said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to expand your musical knowledge with people you love being with, and it’s with songs you love and enjoy, and you feel like you’ve made a second home throughout the school year.”
Schommer said, “What eventually happens is you become best friends with all of your platoon mates. You spend a lot of time together, especially at the start of the season, so you make a lot of friendships and a lot of lasting bonds. All in all, we’re having a lot of fun. Our manager likes to joke around this group, it’s 51% hard work and 49% fun. We look good, we sound good, and priority number three is just having fun.
While the Screaming Eagles are capable of prioritizing fun, Dr. Fisher said it’s also important to her that the band maintain its reputation. She said: “I take very seriously that we are UWL ambassadors because we are in public and all eyes are on us. We therefore have a reputation to defend and we want to continue to be a welcoming group for everyone. It’s a safe environment where people can be themselves and still make great music and have a lot of fun doing it.
On November 5, the Screaming Eagles performed in a rainy-weather home football game that Dr Fisher called “awful”. Commenting on the state of Saturday’s game and the overall benefit of participating in the Screaming Eagles, Dr. Fisher said: “No matter what your specialization is, you can benefit from the experience you get from the marching band and the apply to life. You may complain about things like the weather, but they won’t change. You can just handle it, you know? It takes a really strong work ethic to get through the marching band, because there are long, grueling days. People discover that they are able to do more than they thought. There are many things you can take from the experiences of the marching band and apply to your classroom work and life. »
The Screaming Eagles are nearing the end of their season, so they’re hosting a review concert on November 13 at Mitchell Hall. Dr. Fisher said Mitchell Hall is the only indoor space on campus large enough to accommodate the entire marching band and that it allows space for the entire marching band to perform, including the color guard and twirlers.
The concert is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and admission to the event is free. Schommer said, “It’s our way of putting a bow at the top of the season. We walk in, perform our stationary halftime show, do lots of peptunes, and have a great time celebrating the end of another great season.
Overall, Schommer said members of the UWL Screaming Eagle Marching Band enjoy having a good time while making great music. Summing up the Screaming Eagles experience, Schommer said, “Join the band. It’s funny!”
Image taken from uwlax.edu
Image taken from uwlax.edu