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Football team feeds from band's energy

For Michael Crookston, there is no better moment as a member of Weber State University’s marching band than when he is on the football field performing the school song after a home victory.

The football players are there too, with helmets held high and voices bellowing the chorus.

“That’s a really exciting feeling,” Crookston said, “to really feel like you’re part of the team at the end of the win and know that you contributed to the energy.”

Crookston — a music education major and percussionist — provides feedback during rehearsals from the pit of WSU’s drum-line. He’s performed since high school, where there were stark differences.

“College is very much ‘rah, rah!’ kind of crowd-pleasing, play-to-the-stands kind of thing,” Crookston said. “High school marching band . . . is a lot more like musical theater on a football field. They’re quite different in their fundamental approach to a show, but they’re both lots and lots of fun.”

A member of WSU’s marching band performs at halftime of the football team’s 49-17 victory over Sacramento State University Saturday night. The band will perform at each of the remaining home games.

So much fun that it’s defined much of his life, including his educational path, Crookston said. This year is uniquely fun for Crookston and his band director, Don Keipp, because the band is performing funk music throughout the fall.

“It’s a lot of fun for the band to play,” Keipp said. “It’s music that they can listen to and perform several times and not get tired of. It has a nice groove to it. It makes people want to move their bodies.”

Keipp assumed the director posting two years ago, and said he’s enjoyed it more than he expected.

“The kids have been great,” Keipp said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with this marching band the last two years.”

The band has been riddled with injuries from activities outside of the band over the last several weeks, and had a few holes during its performances Saturday at Roy High School and during WSU’s football game. Even so, Keipp said the band sounds great and has a terrific attitude.

“We have a great football team. At halftime we’ll have a great marching band,” Keipp said. “For me it’s just another reason to come to the football games.”

Preparing for it all isn’t just about learning the music and cohesive group movements over hours of practice; Crookston said it’s also about the many hours of fitting costumes, planning out the logistics of travel and working through mishaps like injuries.

“It’s very intense,” Crookston said. “It takes a lot of people and a lot of teamwork in order for something like that to come together.”

All the work is worth it, though, for what Crookston calls his passion — in part because of the friendships.

“You specifically know a group of people that you see on a regular basis,” Crookston said. “You do meet people in college and on campus, but you rarely become close friends with them.”

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