Every year, Redcoat Marching Band Director Mike Robinson said the band expects to go to a bowl game. However, he and many band members did not expect for this year to be the one they would spend in Pasadena, California, at the Rose Bowl.
“Planning for the Rose Bowl is unlike any other bowl game because we’re totally out of our element here in California,” Robinson said. “At the start of the season I think we all thought we’d do pretty well, but I think most of us thought next year would be the big year.”
During the trip, the Redcoats were busy nearly every moment before the game, from rehearsals at a local high school, to performing in Disneyland, to marching in the Rose Parade and playing at the pregame tailgate.
Parker Jamieson, a sophomore applied biotechnology major and alto saxophone player, said being able to share those experiences with the Redcoats in California was one of the most memorable moments of his life.
"There really aren’t even words to describe how incredible it was,” Jamieson said. “We got to perform for all the Georgia fans inside of Disneyland, and it was just really amazing to have so many fans and not fans come over and listen to all 400 or so of us perform.”
“Everyone’s jaws are just totally dropped, it’s honestly incredible. No matter the outcome of the game, good or bad, it’s going to be insane, and we’re all going to have a really great time.”
- Parker Jamieson
Between the SEC Championship and the Rose Bowl, the Redcoats had little time to organize arrangements for the trip and schedule rehearsals.
Within the first week after the SEC Championship, Robinson said he had spent about $1 million dollars while planning all of the different elements involved in the band’s trip to California, all paid for by the University of Georgia Athletic Association.
“There’s hotel costs, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 a night. So 600 bucks times 125, whatever that is,” Robinson said. “Then food and per diem, and because Los Angeles has such a high cost, the students for the three days got $200 each in cash.”
In the weeks leading up to the game, Robinson said finals and holidays prevented the Redcoats from holding formal practices before Dec. 29, which was when they had their first and only rehearsal before flying out the next morning.
“The last time we saw the Redcoats was at the SEC championship, so we’ve not had any rehearsal or anything which is not ideal,” Robinson said. “We had a little practice at it last night, I wasn’t able to be there but my assistants were.”
Despite not having scheduled practice, students did arrange unofficial conditioning sessions to stay in shape in the weeks leading up to the Rose Bowl.
Ernesto Peréz, a junior landscape architecture major and sousaphone player, said those practices ranged anywhere from his section cleaning their instruments, to band members meeting up to run together.
“Most of my section got together and cleaned the instruments beforehand, but it wasn’t an official thing,” Peréz said. “A lot of people did some conditioning for the parade. I think it’s five-and-a-half miles, so you’d want to be in shape for that.”
Directors recommended conditioning throughout the break to help band members get through the parade. Jamieson said the five-and-a-half mile march was a challenge despite his preparation.
“At first we were like, ‘five miles that’s no big deal’, but it’s actually extremely intense,” Jamieson said. “I had been conditioning during the break, and I was still feeling it. I think my knee gave out at one point. Some people were worse off when we finished.”
While planning, Robinson said he had to plan all of the arrangements for what the band would do if UGA moved on to the National Championship game a week later.
“We also had to plan for the ‘what if we win’ bowl, because the time between the Rose Bowl and national championship is so quick,” Robinson said. “I know the band would love to be able to come back and have one last game on our turf, especially the seniors.”
After UGA won the Rose Bowl, Jamieson said he and his friends are excited to be able to come back to Georgia and play one last game this season with the Redcoats.
“Everyone’s jaws are just totally dropped, it’s honestly incredible,” Jamieson said. “No matter the outcome of the game, good or bad, it’s going to be insane, and we’re all going to have a really great time.”