Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Family vs. Fireworks

I knew there were going to be fireworks after K-State's season opener. I just didn't expect the explosions to involve the Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band.

Band Director Dr. Frank Tracz's motives were called into question with a formation during Saturday's halftime show that some believed was vulgar in nature. For the record, nobody was discussing this at all during the halftime show or during the second half, at least in the south end zone where I was sitting. (Granted: Cell phone reception is not the best in the stadium. I wasn't checking my phone every minute, and my son, who was sitting by me, wasn't going to bring up this topic willingly to his mother. But I didn't hear it from anyone else either.)

Honestly, I was very impressed with the halftime show. The band is always good. But they did multiple formations and were moving all over the field in intricate, ever-shifting patterns. I don't ever recall a show that had more moving parts. I thought it was an apt reflection of the Wildcat band's recognition with the Sudler Trophy, an award given every two years to the top college band in the nation.

After the internet hubbub, I wrote to President Kirk Schulz and Athletic Director John Currie, expressing my support and asking them to stand behind our band and its director. And I also wrote to Dr. Tracz with an apology. It said:
"I am writing with a confession of sorts. I probably would not have written this email if the controversy about the band's halftime performance wouldn't have happened. And that's the sad part to me: I sat in the south end zone of the football stadium on Saturday and was amazed at the intricate formations the band was performing. In all the years we've been season ticket holders for football, I don't recall a halftime show with more moving pieces. So I should have been thinking - then and there - "I should write an email to Dr. Tracz and the band and tell them how much I appreciated all their time and effort in creating and carrying out the halftime show!"

But, in reality, I probably wouldn't have done so. That's sad, and I'm sorry about that - for all the times I should have said thank you and congratulations for your wonderful achievements - but I didn't. Every time I hear the patriotic fanfare at the beginning of the game, I tear up. I also appreciate the band's enthusiasm and leadership with the Wabash Cannonball, the alma mater and so much more.
Congratulations on your national honor! I am proud to have you and the band represent me and my alma mater!
I am not a band alumni, but I have known a few throughout the years. I know that your performances represent HOURS of practicing. As I told someone else, you guys probably spent more time outside practicing in the heat and humidity than the football team did because you don't have a brand new indoor practice facility. So, for all the blood, sweat and tears, thank you!
 I have emailed people in leadership at both K-State and KU, voicing my support for you and the band. So ...
Fight you K-State Wildcats
for Alma Mater fight!
Glory into combat for the Purple and the White
Faithful to our colors
We will ever be
Fighting, ever fighting, for a Wildcat Victory!
Go State!
I don't agree with the University's self-imposed sanctions. I think Schulz and university administration should have stood behind its band family. "Family" is the flag we wave before the game.
It's the sign our football team carries at the forefront as it runs onto the field before the game.
Family is what built the new Vanier football complex and West Stadium ...
... and the amazing digital scoreboard. (The image above taken from across the football field, zooming in on the new scoreboard. It was a wonderful addition for we south end zone occupants!)
There were plenty of positive things to focus on at Saturday's game. Game goers helped "Stripe Out" the stadium, wearing either white or purple shirts in assigned sections. It looked awesome!

The National Football Foundation saluted Coach Snyder on his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Four great Wildcats became the newest Ring of Honor recipients - Michael Bishop, Jordy Nelson, Clarence Scott and Darren Sproles. There were raucous standing ovations for each one of them.
My sister called from Chicago on Monday and asked about the controversy. I offered my take. I told her that it was too bad that the good things were overshadowed. She also had no idea that our starting quarterback Jesse Ertz had a season-ending injury during the first drive or that senior safety Dante Barnett had an arm injury.
Life isn't fair. My parents have been telling me that my whole life, so you'd think I would have learned that lesson by now. So I hope the band members and Dr. Tracz rally and come back next home game better than ever.
And I hope the fireworks we'll be talking about at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be simply that - fireworks ... or another explosive 100-yard kickoff return from Morgan Burns or one of his special teams pals!


  1. So your blog piqued my curiosity and of course I had to google the event. Seriously? I am thinking lately that I need to do a careful assessment of all of my selfish "wants" and then go public and demand them. Apparently that's all you have to do now-- loudly demand...something....anything.... and if you're that little crazy vocal minority, you'll get your way. That's it! A kitten for everyone (from my woodpile)! Now!

    1. That seems to be the current politically correct climate. Everyone is so easily offended these days. Kitties seem to have a calming effect on my husband, so maybe you have the right idea, Carol! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Kim, thank you, thank you for your support of Dr. Tracz and The Pride of Wildcatland! I love that we're family - through Christ, through blood, and through KSU! ~Dana (KSUMB 1995-1999)

    1. You and several other former band members from Stafford certainly crossed my mind as I was thinking about this. Thanks for sharing the post with others, too, Dana!

  3. Kim,
    This is the first I have heard about the mishap. I googled it and watched the marching band video, it must me more apparent to others than it is to me. I thought your letter was good.

    I love your pictures! Make me feel like I was at the game too.

    Have fun at the State Fair and with the Grands!

    I hope you get some rain. We could use one to. Hauling hay has been a dusty job and I seem to have picked up a deep chest cough. I'm blaming the dust.

    When I was home for State Fair many farmers were on the last round of corn irrigation for the season. The dry land corn was starting to turn.

    1. We ended up with 0.50" of rain, which we are thankful for. The remaining corn was still too wet yesterday. We'll see if we can finish up today.

      I hope you get to feeling better!

  4. Your photos of this game are stunning! The sunset with the lights is beautiful, and then the fireworks. Spectacular!

    1. It was a pretty night at the stadium. If I sat on the east side, I could have gotten even better sunset photos, but I liked what I got anyway. Next Saturday afternoon's game will probably get a tad hot.