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Liz O'Neill

Liz O'Neill

Posted: March 16, 2011 08:38 AM

The Unsung Heroes Of March Madness


The so-called "Big Dance" that is March Madness is a complex feat of choreography. Sixty-eight teams from around the country are shuttled to far-flung cities, with legions of fans trailing behind. It's easy to see the effort that so many players and coaches invest in the event. But meanwhile, behind the bench, countless unsung heroes are toiling away to keep things from going... well, afoul.

This year, when you cheer for your favorite college, don't forget to cheer for these pivotal assists.

The Pep Bands
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Do you think a 30-pound sousaphone carries itself to Anaheim, San Antonio, Newark or Houston? Nope. A dedicated undergrad has to do the lugging. UCONN's Blue and White bands (factions of the larger UCMB) send about 30 musicians to March Madness games. After rehearsing for two hours every week, they're ready to play all manner of "pump-up" tunes -- from AC/DC to Lady Gaga. Charter flights with the team often allow Blue and White to do their own packing, but when they fly commercially, the band's big equipment -- typically three or four sousaphones and a drum set -- is shipped and checked at the airport, ahead of departure. Trombones, baritones and mellophones also get checked. And if you think cross-country tourney gigs are all glamour and Louie Louie, don't forget: the brainy brass (and woodwinds) still have to make up missed course work when they return to campus.
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