FSU Marching Chief: A Day in the Life of Mary-Kate Regan

HCorrespondent IOctober 31, 2008

Sports Illustrated proclaimed the Chiefs the "band that never lost a halftime."

During halftime, while Florida State football fans wait for players to return to the field, a musically talented community entertains the crowd. The largest college marching band in the world not only marches, but plays during every home game, guiding Florida State fans to participate in "the chop" and other traditional songs.

Regardless of heat or score, the Marching Chiefs never cease to get spectators excited about FSU.

"The Chiefs are great. I don't think any other college has had the opportunity to see an amazing band like this," said FSU junior Thomas Wheeler. "I love music, and I love watching the Chiefs. They make it fun."

Mary-Kate Regan, a junior from Stuart, plays the flute for the Marching Chiefs. When she's not attending classes, getting involved in Kappa Kappa Psi, the honorary band service fraternity, or Seminole Sound, Regan is at practice, preparing for the next performance.

"The rehearsals can get long and tiring and time consuming," Regan said. "It's everyday from 4 to 6 p.m. On weekends we have about an hour rehearsal in the morning, and then we meet two hours before the game. We don't rehearse on Sundays."

Regan has been playing flute for eight years and has loved the experience.

"I was in band in middle and high school; I really enjoyed it," said Regan. "I made a lot of friends, so I came here and decided to do it."

Regan's week long try-out for the Marching Chiefs involved a playing audition, learning FSU's way to march and finally a marching audition. Processing the results took about a day, and then the decisions were posted online.

"They used to post it on the door to the band office, and it used to be this big crazy party," Said Regan. "They do it online now. Everybody still goes out and has a good time over it."

Every now and then, mistakes happen. Whether it's loosing sheet music, playing the wrong note or walking too fast or too slow, errors occur.

"I've turned the wrong way, gone the wrong direction; I've dropped a few things," said Regan. "Last year at the Clemson game, I marched on the wrong side of the field."

Besides playing music for an enormous audience, many members agree that there are various other benefits that stem from being involved in Marching Chiefs. Everyone has their favorites, including free food and T-shirts.

"When you come out of the tunnel in front of 84,000 screaming fans, it is just like no other experience in the world," said assistant drum major and FSU senior Mark Shilling.

"It's getting to go to all the games," said clarinet player and FSU sophomore Krystle Pridgeon. "And having a great time with all my new buddies."

Each section of the band has their own superstitions or lucky charms. Some have pre-game rituals. Others wear articles of clothing.

"Our section has these little weird bead things on our shoes," said Regan. "It's kind of our lucky thing. We always wear them for every game."

Even when games weren't their best, some fans came just for the band, which never let them down.

"We were 0-11 my freshman year. Bobby wasn't there," said 1977 Alumni Mareed Stollman. "We used to say the Marching Chiefs won every game."

Others, when they were prospective freshman, came to FSU to be a part of the tradition and ended up staying, even after graduation.

"This is what makes FSU," said Marching Chiefs Graduate Assistant Jay Juchniewicz. "This is one of the reasons I came here as an undergrad and one of the reasons why I came back as a masters and doctoral student, to work with the band and continue the tradition."

© Copyright 2008 FSView & Florida Flambeau

Issue date: 11/2/06 Section: Arts & Life