The Rose Bowl (T-Shirts, More Money)

If you’re wondering what the title above means, it’s this thing the band says while high-fiving during field practice.
If you’re wondering what the Rose Bowl is, it’s the bowl game of all bowl games.
And if you’re wondering what a bowl game is, well, Google is your friend. (And so am I, of course, so I’m just gonna tell you that it’s basically a post-season college football game played by teams who have won at least six games. The bowl game you go to essentially depends on your placement in your conference.)
And if you’re wondering why I’m writing this post, it’s because USC WENT TO THE ROSE BOWL this year! And we won! And I was there for it!

But yeah, if you hadn’t figured it out by now, going to the Rose Bowl is a big, big deal and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most band members (well, except for dr. Bartner, our band director, who’s been 18 times to date). The hype around the game was so huge that even though I wasn’t entirely feeling those five days of torture that it was to come with, there is just no way I would have missed it. And, well, I also really needed that Rose Bowl patch for my jock jacket next year.

So if you’re interested in what the Rose Bowl was like for band members, continue reading.

December 29

After a blissful week of sitting on my couch and eating corn flakes out of the box (well, excluding the two days I was on RA duty for), my alarm rang at 6:30 AM and it was time for us to begin our “five day season,” with nothing other than breakfast burritos and a 9 to 5 field practice. Aka my favorite things in life NOT. But that’s okay, it it’s all worth it, I told myself, even though I surely did not mean it at the time.

After going over band camp fundamentals and speeding through the first segment of the show during field practice (which literally took us 9 to 5), we got on our buses to the Americana at Brand, which is essentially an outdoor mall that is exactly like The Grove, except it’s in Glendale. We did a mini-parade there and performed some rock charts, which you can watch here

After the performance, we left for Paramount Studios to see the pre-screening of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage or something equally ludicrous. I spent the entire film trying to decide whether it’s meant to be ironic or not, and if you’re interested, here’s a plot description: basically Vin Diesel wears a big fur coat and says a bunch of improbable shit while doing work for an evil-looking lady who, in the plot twist of the century, actually turns out to be evil. And then things blow up and five minutes before the film is over, Ice Cube arrives to save the day. The end. Three hours of my life wasted.

December 30:

On this wondrous day, I decided to forego the phenomenal breakfast burritos and just chill in my apartment, which was probably why, for once, they decided to make a change and have Chik-fil-A for breakfast. Why you hate me so? On the other hand, it was raining so hard that they had to cancel field practice, and we just had a three-hour sectional instead. It may not sound like it, but trust me, I’d take sectionals over field practice any day. 

The highlight of our day, however, was the trip to Disneyland that followed. The entire band got to do a parade through the park and perform at the train station, and we also got to go behind the scenes of Toontown, which meant that a few of us had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of seeing Goofy change. I know it sounds exciting, but what it was in fact was the very definition of disillusionment.  After finishing the parade and having our childhood ruined, the lovely people at Disney gave us free tickets to the park, meaning that we got to spend the rest of the day walking around the rain, because yes, if I forgot to mention before, it was still raining. Also, just a heads up: Minnie ears and rain don’t work well together, and you will end up looking like me in the photo below, and all your friends will Snapchat you.

When it’s raining but you gotta wear those Minnie ears.
Squaaad ft. random girl in the back? (PC: Ben Chua)

 

When you find a decent photo of yourself and can’t believe it.

 

When there’s a 5 minute wait for Splash Mountain so they force you to go.

That’s that for that. Also, shoutout to the band for giving us $20 to waste on churros. And shoutout to the churro vendor guy who delivered the following line: “I always wanted to be in the USC band but I never quite made it.” #sosad

Here are two videos, pick your favorite.

December 31

Also known as the day I spent 50 minutes in line for In-n-Out, in the pouring rain, only to have my burgers completely soaked during my walk back to the bus. But hey, at least I wasn’t the one who accidentally sat under a drain during what was probably the worst rainfall I had experienced during my time in California.

Clearly having the time of our lives.


Also, just FYI, if you’re thinking of spinning a wet flag in a poncho, don’t. In the best case scenario, your flag will get stuck and you will get water all over you. In the worst case scenario, you will rip out your earring and start bleeding everywhere, like I did. And you might not even notice until 30 minutes later when you’re already back on your bus and your friend asks you why your ears are covered in blood. Sorry for putting that graphic image in your head.

If you’re by any chance interested in this disaster, here it is.


But yes, the 31st was the day of a short field practice,followed by Bandfest, which is basically performing your show for an audience of like 300 people and feeling completely underwhelmed. So it’s already miserable to begin with, now imagine topping it off with pouring rain. The only highlight was dr. Bartner’s meme-inspiring act of cultural appropriation, which I won’t link here because I’m an RA taught to be inclusive and respectful, but if you’re interested, you can follow this link. (This is also a prime example of how RA life and band culture aren’t exactly compatible.)

After the rainy tragedy that Bandfest was, I retreated to my apartment, took the best shower of my life, and headed over to our wonderful band New Year’s Eve party at the Radisson, aka the overpriced hotel across the street from campus. And tbh, I feel like when the band organizes parties, they’re expecting people to already show up drunk, because otherwise it’s just boring af. And even watching all your friends completely drunk gets boring after a while. The only reason I even stayed until midnight was to get my “special gift,” which — ironically — turned out to be a champagne glass. I mean, it actually came pretty handy a few days later, but that’s not a story that you will ever hear.

January 1

When official call time is 11:15 AM but you’re already there at 9 for extra practice so they’ll keep you in the pregame show, but then they take you out anyway. Nothing else to say about that. “You’re all 100% ready to be in pregame, but some are more ready than others” said our TA. You know, the way all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

On another note, this was also the day 24 people squeezed into a four-person apartment in order to make flower crowns for the next day instead of sleeping, because who needs sleep before the day they continuously referred to “the longest day of our lives?”

January 2

It’s GAAAAME DAY…I said at 1:30 in the morning when I got up to straighten and then re-curl my hair only to have the whole thing fall flat before the parade even started. But yeah, I’m sure they didn’t make up that 3:30 AM call time at the Radisson with the Silks in mind.

Here’s a cute pic from Donee’s Snapchat bc my phone is perpetually out of storage.

After about 2 hours of breakfast and flower crown pinning and stretching and changing into uniform, we were finally on our buses, on our way to the Rose Parade. Umm…what do I say here? There was a 6 mile parade ahead of us, it was cold af, and I really needed to pee. Yup. But then somehow, miraculously, all of those issues sorted themselves out before the actual parade started, which was — in all honestly — a lot of fun! Probably my favorite experience in band so far. And those 7 minutes of spinning Fight On! non-stop really didn’t seem so bad. The TV cameras, the people, the flower crowns, the spinning, the smiling, the cheering, and the Pasadena streets all added up into one of the best experiences of my lifetime. Those 5.5 miles did not feel like 5.5 miles, and I was honestly ready to do another parade once we were finished. Well okay, that’s might be an exaggeration, but I would much rather have done that than stand at the game for 4 hours.

 

 

When they finally give you food.


Version One: The Non-TV Segment
Version Two: The TV Segment, aka 7 Minutes of Non-Stop Fight On


Which brings us to…the game. Oh yeah. That legendary game. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard what a game it was, and if not, you can always read better summaries online, but since this is my blog and my personal experience, I’m just gonna go with what the game felt like for me: cold. It was fucking freezing and I kept going to the restroom just so I could warm up but there was no hot water. It was miserable. It was already miserable when we were winning, and became even more miserable when we were losing. It was miserable until the very last two minutes, which turned everything around and made it all worth it. 

The Rose Bowl halftime show! Watch on YouTube for a better resolution.

“Hurry up and lose!” is what the band chants when the opponent is obviously losing and there’s not much time left, but I found myself silently mouthing it to our own team instead. This was already the longest day of our lives, I was not about to go overtime. And then we had a touchdown. The score became 49-49. The game suddenly became a lot more interesting. I wasn’t cold anymore. I had no idea what was going on, but I was certainly not anticipating anything great. I wanted to go home, but I wanted us to win more. We had about a minute left and another touchdown didn’t seem likely. I was looking around confused, and it was in that moment of utter confusion that something happened, I wasn’t sure what, but people started hugging each other and tears were running down faces, and there was confetti and people were hugging me, and I was just like “what the actual fuck?” The game was over. 52-49. We had won. How? With a field goal the last 5 seconds. It was a miracle. It was so fast that I didn’t even see it happen. Or even if I did, I wasn’t sure what it meant. But it didn’t matter. It happened and we won, we had won the Rose Bowl!!! It was truly unbelievable.

Not every photo needs a caption.

We played Conquest about 30 times and then marched back to our buses. I still couldn’t process it at that point. But, as cliche as that sounds (and yes, saying that is also a cliche), I knew that history was made. And I was part of it. And I think that last sentence is dramatic enough to end with.

Also, if you’ve read this far, here’s this special gem for you:

 

 

When all the cameras are on you and you’re just like ‘nah’

PS. Also, if you’re interested in an alternative perspective/are more into videos and such, Katherine, a trumpet in the band, posted three vlogs on the Rose Bowl, which you can watch here. She’s awesome and she makes me want to start vlogging, but alas, some people are just cooler than me and can do things that I can’t.

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