Taking the field

College isn’t always about going to class and squeezing in some parties in between. Students spend hours in athletic practices, meetings, rehearsals, deadlines, jobs and a multitude of other things.

Each Friday, The Hurricane will run “Behind the Scenes,” a series spotlighting student groups and organizations that make the University a more dynamic place.

The story goes that in a 1948 halftime show at the Orange Bowl the public address announcer spontaneously gave the UM marching band, up to this point unnamed since being founded in 1933 by Walter Schaeffer, its name.

As the band was taking the field to play “Man of the Hour,” a piece by legendary march composer Henry Fillmore, the announcer voiced out “‘Man of the Hour’ played by the ‘Band of the Hour.'”

The name stuck and so has a band that continues to be the center of the Hurricane spirit.

“This is, without a doubt, one of the most spirited marching bands in the country,” Phillip Clements, Band of the Hour director, said.


Take, for instance, junior tuba player Kerry Donohue who attends Barry University (it is not required that band members go to UM to be part of the band). She relates her participation to that of athletes.

“I bleed orange and green,” she said. “So being in the band is like being on a team and we have the opportunity to represent the University just the same.”

The Band of the Hour has certainly had many opportunities. Seventh-year member and this year’s captain Mario Cruz has gone to the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl as a member of the band.

“People don’t realize what marching in a band is like,” he said, referring to the stereotypes that often accompany the term “band member.”

“You meet so many new people and you are a part of something so big athletically that you want to come back year after year,” he said.

The band is also composed of the Hurricane Color Guard and the Hurricanette dancers, who bring a unique quality to the band.

“We are more provocative than a lot of other guards,” Samantha Bazzell, sophomore, said. “We incorporate dances into our routines, which is unheard of for most guards.”

What also goes unheard is how many hours each member puts in. Two-hour practices are held three days a week. On game days, band members usually arrive four hours before game time to play at pep rallies and at the president’s tent.

When all is said and done, however, the tradition of the band is what continues to strengthen their spirit. For Jonathan Espinosa, four-year member, it’s playing “Roller Fugue” right before the fourth quarter. For the band as a whole it was Monday’s “Famous First Rehearsal” when they played for President Donna E. Shalala, Dean William Hipp of the Frost School of Music and other administrators as part of a long-standing tradition that kicks off the new season every year.

“Despite its size this is the most talented band at UM that I’ve been a part of. They really care about the way they sound and proved it, especially the freshman, against FSU,” Cruz said. “And having Mr.Clements, who brings out our talents, is key.”

Paul Fajardo can be contacted at p.fajardo@umiami.edu.