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FSU football players celebrating their win
FSU football players celebrating their win
Photo by Tyler Pottenburgh
Life > Experiences

Bowling for Cheez-Its

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to travel to a college football bowl game with your school’s marching band, let me give you the rundown. It’s early mornings, late nights, 18-hour days, free meals with your best friends and memories that last a lifetime. I don’t speak for everyone’s experience, but I can at least tell you about mine. Let me start by saying it is brutal. Completely worth it. But brutal. 

We started preparing for this trip long before the game took place. Bowl Games were announced the Sunday before Fall finals week and the Florida State Marching Chiefs met the following Tuesday to discuss plans for the game. Aside from a small number of seniors in the band, this was everyone’s first bowl game. In this meeting, we went over travel plans, accommodations and any other questions asked by band members. My section, the majorettes, started making a checklist to make sure that everyone had all the clothing, uniform pieces and equipment they needed to take home so that we had it in Orlando. Once plans were finalized, all we could do was wait until it was time to travel to Orlando. 

The game was on a Thursday, but the band started the trip on Tuesday of that week. The band uses a unique travel system to get everyone to the bowl game location. Since the game takes place during winter break, it doesn’t make sense to call everyone back to Tallahassee just to ride a bus to Orlando. Instead, a shuttle system is set up. Buses start in different locations across the state to allow students to load a bus as close to home as possible. Members that lived out of state had the option to fly directly to Orlando. We even had the option to drive ourselves to Orlando. I drove with my family to Orlando a few days early and met the groups on the buses when they drove down. Tuesday was just a travel day. It gave people time to catch up with friends, get settled in hotel rooms, collect per diem and get a nice dinner before the hard work began on Wednesday. 

We started loading the buses at 9:15 Wednesday morning to travel to the local high school to practice. We stayed there until 12:30 practicing pregame, halftime and any other music we might play at the game. This practice was vital to the outcome of our performances on game day. We learned a lot of routines throughout the season, so it takes effort from everyone to make sure we get the choreography right. The show we performed at the bowl game was our first show of the year, our NOLA show. Thankfully, we performed these songs throughout the season, so the choreography never really left our brains. It helped that this was the first show we learned as a team too. How could we forget not only our first show together but the show we performed in the Superdome? 

We also had a pep rally at Pointe Orlando that afternoon, so after lunch, it was back to the hotel to do hair and makeup. We had no idea what to expect for this pep rally, so we took our batons and our poms. Once we saw the impossibly small space we would be standing, we knew we wouldn’t be able to twirl. There wasn’t even enough space for the whole team to stand in one place. We got to see Coach Norvell’s speech at the pep rally, perform some of our favorite songs and we might have lost our ability to hear standing next to our drumline. When we got back to the hotel, we were given free pizza and Cheez-Its to make up for some mix-ups that happened when we checked into the hotel.

I don’t think many people know how many extra hours spirit groups like the Marching Chiefs put in outside of game time. My game day started at 5:30 in the morning (12 hours before kick-off) and didn’t end until midnight. The majorettes had to be dressed in gameday hair and makeup before we left for our morning rehearsal. I watched the sunrise while I got ready and by 7:30 we were on the field warming up. The field we were practicing on was real grass so there was morning dew and some mud on the ground. To prevent our uniforms from getting messed up and dirty we chose to wear one of our matching tank tops. While this was great for practice, it wasn’t the greatest experience having to change into our uniforms on the bus.

We left straight from morning practice to Winter Park so that we could participate in the Parade of Bands. It was a nice and short little parade through town that ended in a big open park. Here both bands, the Marching Chiefs and the Pride of Oklahoma went back and forth performing songs to get the crowd excited for the game in a few hours. Did I mention this is taking place around lunch? We were still a long way away from kickoff. The good news was that we were provided with a nice meal after our performances. We sat around the park not only with our friends and sections but OU’s band was there with us, so it gave us an opportunity to talk to them. 

Once lunch was over, it was time to get back on the buses and drive over to the stadium. The bus ride gave everyone time to do hair and makeup touch-ups and maybe take a quick nap to give them a little extra energy for the game. We brought a few home game traditions with us to Camping World Stadium so the first stop once we unloaded the buses was Legacy Walk. The entire band lined the sidewalk with the cheerleaders and fans to welcome the team to the stadium. We made it known that the Noles were in the building, playing the War Chant for the team as they made their way inside. This was still a few hours before game time, so once we were inside the stadium they let us sit under the stands to grab a snack and water and use the bathroom. 


Bowl Game Sign
Original photo by Peyton Gay

After what felt like days, it was finally game time. We filed into our seats and while the instrumentalists warmed up, the majorettes took this time to get a few pictures before we warmed up for pregame. The Noles were the acting home team for this game so we performed second for both pregame and halftime. This game was my best show of the year. I had a no-drop performance! Aside from the on-field performances, we perform for the entirety of the game. For four quarters, we don’t sit down. Even if we wanted to sit down, the game kept us on our feet. With a stressful first half and then a victorious second half, there was a roller coaster of emotions being felt throughout the game. Personally, I was all over the place. Sometimes I was nothing but excited and other times I struggled to hold my eyes open as the weight of the day’s events started to catch up to me. Just like our experience in New Orleans, the Noles waited until the last minute to secure the win. 

There were a lot of emotions during this game, not only because of the actual game but because this was our last game of the season. For some members, this was their last game as a Marching Chief. When you are in an organization like this, you build relationships for life. You have put blood, sweat and tears into this group and now it’s time to close that chapter. At the end of every game, no matter the outcome, we sing the hymn. There were a lot of tears and hugs shared during and after this hymn. Yes, you can come back to games and sing it with the band as an alumnus, but it’s not the same. These are some of your last moments as a member before you become an alumnus. You are closing a large chapter of your life and even if you are coming back next year, it won’t be with these same people. 

Once our tears were dried (at least most of them), we packed all our stuff and headed back to the bus. Not sure what happened on other buses, but I can say that more tears were shed on Bus Seven. Exhaustion and all our feelings about the season ending really started to take over. The thing that did raise our spirits was the dinner boxes we received. We were treated to Firehouse Subs and boxes of Cheez-Its. For the next 30 minutes, there was nothing but silence as everyone ate their dinner. We got back to the hotel around 11 p.m. and by midnight, I had washed the day off and climbed in my bed. 

Bowl Dinner
Photo by Peyton Gay

While it was an incredibly exhausting experience, it was worth every minute. The memories I made are ones that I will never forget. Whether it be watching this football team grow, my contacts glossing over during the third quarter or the dinner trips with my friends, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and memories that the Marching Chiefs organization has given me and for all the experiences yet to come. 2023 is shaping up to be an outstanding season and I can’t wait to experience it with these people. We will be starting the season right where we finished it: the Noles will head back to Orlando to play the LSU Tigers at Camping World Stadium. 

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Peyton is a senior double majoring in Communications and Editing, Writing, Media. She is a member of the Majorette Line with the Marching Chiefs and she hopes to one day be a sports reporter.