As an unconventional, non-traditional college football season comes to a close with the National Championship game in Florida Monday night, college students from across the country will keep one tradition alive: the marching band.
Six members of the Hawkeye Marching Band along with nearly 1500 students from colleges across the U.S. will come together as the Intercollegiate Marching Band for a virtual halftime performance.
Despite the pandemic, the Hawkeye band was still able to perform in small groups and in virtual settings this season.
But for band members, nothing quite compares to marching in Kinnick Stadium with 250 of your best friends.
"Going from six performances at Kinnick Stadium to two or three virtual, recorded performances, it was a big shift. We didn't really get the whole performing aspect," says trumpet co-section leader Zach Ring.
When the band was approached by organizers from the Intercollegiate Marching Band, it presented a unique opportunity for six members to perform on a national stage.
"With the Intercollegiate Marching Band, we got a chance to perform in a different way with a lot of people from across the country," says Brandon Burkhardt, the other trumpet section co-section leader.
The Intercollegiate Marching Band was put together by the College Band Directors National Association and was spearheaded by the University of Illinois director of bands, Dr. Barry Houser.
Students recorded their parts, many of whom donned their full uniform for the first time in months, and submitted them to the organizers, who have spent the past several weeks editing together the virtual halftime show.
The show will air inside Hard Rock Stadium at halftime and will be streamed live on YouTube.
As the vaccine is rolled out and there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, Hawkeye band members are already looking forward to next year.
"I honestly think the next generation of the Hawkeye band has the potential to be one of the best we've ever had," says mellophone section leader Amanda Thomas. "When you have a game every Saturday during a normal season, you kind of forget how awesome it is you get the opportunity to do that. So I think this upcoming season everyone is going to give 120 million percent."
Be sure to follow the Intercollegiate Marching Band on Facebook and Twitter for more details about Monday night's performance.