For the many talented and dedicated marching bands whose football teams compete in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA), performing at a bowl game is only a distant dream. However, the Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSULA) Demon Band from Natchitoches received an interesting opportunity to sub for the University of Arizona (UA) from Tucson at the 2013 AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La.
“Our students are never going to get a chance to play at a bowl game ourselves, so this was a huge draw for them and the second largest crowd we’ve ever played for,” says Dr. Jeffrey Mathews, director of bands at NSULA.
Due to travel expenses, the University of Arizona band decided not to make the trip, and the athletic department contacted Mathews to see if NSULA could fill in. UA made a donation to the NSULA band from its bowl game payout to cover travel expenses and sent Arizona hats and hoodies for students to wear as their uniform.
“We chose to play a role as the University of Arizona band for that weekend, and we were ready to do it,” Mathews says. “Almost all of the feedback I heard was positive— their fans thanked and appreciated us.”
UA drum major Drew Eary traveled to Louisiana to prep and conduct the Demon Band, rehearsing the fight song and alma mater stylization and teaching them some of UA’s traditional cheers and chants. NSULA and the opposing band, Boston College, mutually agreed to standstill pregame and halftime performances. They also performed at several pep rallies before the game.