Each year, Homecoming brings thousands of alumni back to the bricks of Athens. For the Marching 110, it means that former band members will watch from the sidelines and then join the band on the field for a song.
Joshua Boyer, the assistant director of the Marching 110, enjoys the chaos that Homecoming Week brings. He knows that all eyes will be on the marching band come the halftime show.
“There is a certain excitement in the air, looking forward to what this week means to us and performing for our alumni. You know, because the most critical fans we have are our alumni,” Boyer says.
Boyer is an alumni of the band himself — the assistant director of two years graduated from Ohio University in 2008. As an alumnus, he has participated in both the Homecoming Parade and the halftime show at the football game. He looks forward to connecting with friends and other former band members each year.
“We have 50 years of alumni here every year that have stories to tell. And it’s a lot of fun to hear about those different stories because even though we span 50 years, a lot of our stories are similar,” Boyer says.
The Marching 110 is using this weekend to look back at its history to remember one of these stories.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Marching 110 readmitting women into the band. In 1967, Gene Thrialkill, the director of the band, wished to redesign the entire marching band. His vision came at a cost, though. The band, formerly known as The Ohio University Marching Band, would become the 100 Marching Men of Ohio in 1967 and then the 110 Marching Men of Ohio in 1968. Not only did the band lose its Ivy League school style of marching and its green blazers and ties, but it also lost all female musicians and the majorettes.
While the decision was not a popular one, it ultimately led to the marching band that Ohio University has today. Under Thrailkill’s direction, the band began an athletic style of marching for which the marching bands of the Big Ten Conference are known. It would not be until Title IX was passed in 1972 that the 110 Marching Men of Ohio would begin to consider allowing their female counterparts to rejoin.
In 1975, six women auditioned and joined the newly named Marching 110. Five of the six women made it through the first season while one had to drop out due to injury. It was these first few women that laid the bricks for the women of the marching band today.
EmmyRae Watson, a senior music education major, is one of the many women of the Marching 110 that are grateful for these first ladies that blazed trails. She is honored to be a part of the anniversary celebration.
“It means everything to me. Especially being a female leader, where I am right now. I can’t wait to get on the field on Saturday and play for all of them. The women and men of the band, you know, before me and after me,” Watson gushes.
Watson is one of the three Dance Commanders of the Marching 110 this year. She, along with Matt Fugita and Ryan Andrews are responsible for the band’s YouTube-famous dance moves. The dancing has become one of the Marching 110’s trademarks and it would have never happened without Thrailkill’s decision to change the band’s direction.
It is important to remember the band’s history, but when it comes down to it, they are all musicians.
“Regardless of gender, male or female, we all come to band with the same ideologies that the band was built on and that is: to be hungry for success, to give 110 percent effort always and most of all, to make everything we do better than the time we did it before. That’s what this band is about,” Watson says.
Those who watch the band perform in the parade can expect a lot of energy, drive and passion from this Homecoming’s halftime show, especially since the alumni will be there with the Marching 110.
“The homecoming show is always a little different for us because you have hundreds of alumni on the sidelines just staring at you. When you play and when you march, you play and march for them first, and then for yourself,” Watson says.
One thing is for certain; the Marching 110 will be giving 110 percent this weekend. They always do.