On Wisconsin! 19 local students Rose Bowl bound
Not as spectators, part of a chartered tour of grown-ups who will sit comfortably in the stands, drinking cool beverages after a good night’s rest.
No, these residents are UW-Madison students who are part of the few, the proud, the “Varsity”-playing, tap-stepping University of Wisconsin Marching Band.
They come from Janesville, Milton, Albany, Orfordville, Beloit and Albany. They play the trumpet, the clarinet, the euphonium and the trombone. They’re majoring in biochemistry, math, genetics, political science and math.
Two things hold them together: Most have wanted to be in the marching band since childhood, and they’re all over-the-top excited to be going to the Rose Bowl.
Let’s say it again.
Janesville native Jack Huibregtse, a fifth- year senior, plays trombone.
He’s wanted to be in the marching band since his father took him to the 1999 Rose Bowl game.
“I’ve been a Badger fan my whole life,” Huibregtse said.
It would have been nice to play football for Wisconsin, but Huibregtse realized early in his high school career he was more of hockey kind of guy.
He and his sister Quinn are among of a handful of siblings playing together in the band.
“Being in the band with her is the reason I came back for my fifth year,” he said.
He was concerned his fellow band members might anticipate a miniature version of himself.
“She’s a little bit more studious than I am,” Huibregtse said.
Huibregtse, while not exactly on the marching band’s lunatic fringe, is more, shall we say, “outgoing.”
Quinn, a trumpet player, has found her set of friends.
Like her brother, Quinn is a devote Badger fan, and “wanted to be in the band even before he was in it.”
After making through the “really horrible” trial week, she was thrilled to be awarded a spot in the ranks of the trumpets.
“The first time on the field, I was really, really nervous,” Quinn said. “I don’t know if I even played that much.”
“I’ve wanted to be in the band since I was little,” said Mary Vogt, a 2009 Craig High School grad and clarinet player.
Her sister-in-law Amanda Vogt also played clarinet in the band, and her family is full of UW-Madison grads and Badger fans.
Vogt had to compete against a huge class of marching band wannabes, and the clarinet rank has only nine members.
Along with the physical regimen of tryouts, there were all the little extras to learn, such as the band’s signature “stop-at-the-top” and tap step, she said.
Add music and choreography and remember that 80,000 people will be watching you.
It’s all worth it, Vogt said.
To date, the highlight of her band/college career was Wisconsin’s victory over Ohio State, but the Rose Bowl will certainly top that.
Some of her band mates want more permanent memories.
“There’s a guy who’s getting a tattoo with the band logo with a rose around it,” Vogt said.
‘Since I was little’
Sarah Lonnborg, a 2008 Milton High School grad, comes from sturdy Badger stock.
Her family is full of fans and alumni.
Her uncle Tom Lonnborg played football for the Badgers. On Oct. 23, 1971, he worked his way into Badger record books with 109 yards receiving.
“I knew I was going to try out for the band when I went to college,” Lonnborg said. “Since I was little, I had a poster of the band in my bedroom.”
She knew the competition would be fierce for spots in the band, and she tried to prepare. She admitted she wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
“When I woke up after the first day, I could barely get out of bed,” Lonnborg said. “It’s a lot more intense than anything I did in high school.”
By the fifth practice, she began to get the hang of the distinctive marching step and some of the patterns.
“Then we added the instruments in the sixth practice, and it was like back to square one,” she said.
It’s all worth it.
“When I went to college, I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Lonnborg said.
She loves the moments at the home games when the band plays “Varsity” and the whole stadium stands, singing and waving their arms.
Her favorite moment, however, took place during the Champs Sports Bowl last year when the Badgers played the Miami Hurricanes in Orlando, Fla.
The stands were packed with Miami fans.
“We came out on the field, they booed so loudly,” Lonnborg said. “When we came out at halftime they booed a little less. Then we did a suicide drill, where we weave in and out.”
By the time they got finished with their halftime show, everybody was clapping and cheering.
“We made a fan out of everybody there,” Lonnborg said.
We can’t say it enough.