The Highstepper

Super Bowl 50: The Lasting Experience

Since I was a very small kid, I have dreamed of attending UC Berkeley, and ever since High School band day in my freshman year, I’ve dreamed of participating in Cal Band. Today, my wildest dreams were met and exceeded with my participation in #SB50. In the past, I couldn’t help it but wonder if I made the wrong choice by cancelling my SIR to UCLA; simply based on financial concerns. I now know that I could not have made a better choice for myself; there are some things that are simply impossible to quantify in monetary terms.
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From the moment I stepped out of North Tunnel for the first time to begin pregame vs Grambling State, I knew I belonged here. By the end of the season, I was proudly repping Cal Band apparel and looking into ways in which I could extend my involvement of the organization. I was humming “Fight” as I roamed around campus, going from class to class. Whenever I introduced myself in a class with an interesting fact, I defaulted to “I’m in Cal Band” knowing that our organization is a symbol of the pride and spirit which is embodied by our school- one of freedom of expression, organization, and a mixture of strict discipline and an easygoing sense of humor.
Cal Band has possibly been the single most forming experience of my life, building friendships and memories which I know will last my lifetime, shaping my view of the world. I identify so strongly with Cal Band that I can honestly say that I would not be the same student or person without every single member of this organization’s help and guidance.
I will forever be a Golden Bear, and a highstepper.

- Patrick Scholl Alto Sax

Monday, Jan 25th: Bringing the Super Bowl to Maxwell Field

Nearly two weeks ago, Cal Band ventured to Maxwell Field to rehearse a distinctive postseason performance, an encore that would cap off a semester of fantastic football and field shows. On a chilly Monday evening, we began learning our continuities to the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show.

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Waiting in ‘alpha order’ to be identified and cleared to enter to field, it was obvious everyone was juggling a mix of excitement and anxiety. Personally, I was ready to high-step my bass drum off and be a part of an undeniably magical and pivotal show, not just in Cal Band history, but in the history of Super Bowl performances. I would be lying if I said the thought of accidentally tripping in front of Gustavo Dudamel didn’t make me nervous. But once the field positions were decided and the yard markers were passed, it was like any other practice.

Despite our brief marching hiatus from winter break, we instantly fell back into rhythm. A pep talk beforehand from our coordinators KP and Shawn set us up to put our best step forward. I’m not sure why, but I expected these Super Bowl reps to be stone-faced suits with no time to spare a college kid’s confusion. I’ve never been more wrong. Both of them were inspirational. Though they made clear what was expected of us, they were constantly having a good time and, most of all, made it abundantly clear they were here to help us perform the best halftime show possible.

In good spirits, we hurried up and waited, enjoyed the company of friends we hadn’t seen over winter break, and when the time came, executed the drill to the best of our ability. I knew full well, as did my friends marching by my side, that this would be one of the biggest opportunities we would ever get to show the world why we do what we love. The Golden Bears were ready to take the Super Bowl by storm.

Ben Pridonoff – Fundraiser Coordinator

Grambling State Visits Berkeley

Cal Football proved that they are still on the rise by kicking off the 2015 season with a stunning score of 73-14 against Grambling State University. The game on September 5 was special, not just because it raised the hopes and expectations of Cal fans for the coming season, but also because of a unique and exciting visit from Grambling State’s famous marching band. As always, Cal Band was welcoming and friendly to the other band; we’re always happy to meet another marching band, especially one all the way from the other side of the country.

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On Saturday, the football game began at 2pm. It was a beautiful day in Berkeley and the sun was shining on Memorial Stadium as we performed a rousing pregame performance – our first of the season! During the pregame show, the Grambling State Band joined us on the field and we played the National Anthem together, our incredible combined sound filling the stadium as their director conducted us.

While the Bears made us a bit nervous at the beginning of the game, we quickly saw that we had nothing to worry about. Our team scored the first touchdown, and went on to score many, many more. Cal crushed Grambling State, and managed to set a first-half scoring record with an incredible lead of 52-0. Despite the southern team’s struggle on the field, their band and cheerleaders remained spirited throughout the game. The Grambling Band wailed out Talkin’ Out The Side of Your Neck from the stands, and their cheerleaders did flips across the end zone when they scored a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Cal Band gleefully played Fight for California again and again. The entire stadium was in high spirits.

Come halftime, Grambling State’s marching band took the field first. They were uproarious, rousing the crowd, as well as us,  with their dance routines. They even surprised us by performing “California Love” by 2Pac as a friendly shout out. Once they finished, Cal Band took the field to perform the first halftime show of the year, Guardians of the Calaxy. The show consisted of five classic songs that appealed to both alumni and students, who recognized the hits from the blockbuster summer movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. Arranged by our very own Robert Calonico, the halftime show included Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Suede, Escape (the Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes, Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, Fooled Around and Fell in Love by Elvin Bishop, and finally Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Our drum major, Sam Cappoli (instrument and year), and his Stunt Committee ran around the field during the show dressed in costumes of characters from Guardians of the Galaxy, performing a silly skit that ended in vanquishing the Stanfurd tree with Oski’s help!

Our team finished off Grambling’s team with a score of 73 points. The Cal football team crowded in front of the band to sing along to Fight for California in celebration of our first win of the season. Then Grambling State’s marching band joined our band on the field for the post-game performance and we took turns performing some of our most popular songs. As the Grambling State marched off the field and headed back down south, Cal Band sadly waved them farewell, grateful for the opportunity to meet and watch such a lively band with a style so different from our own.

- Tara Hurley

“Fall of Troy” with UCLA

It was on October 22nd, 2015, the Cal vs. UCLA game, when I experienced one of the most stressful days in my time as a Cal Band member.
The day started average enough; it was a typical hot Southern California day, one that a SoCal native such as myself would recognize. It was a heat compounded by anticipation, the thick uniforms, the dry air, and the fact that I had been accustomed to the far more temperate climate of the Bay Area. But other than that, it was business as usual; Cal fans were hopeful to make the most of UCLA’s current losing streak, beat their “little bears” of the South. Personally, it was not so much the game I was looking forward to as it was the halftime show. Dubbed “The Downfall of Troy,” the joint show involved both the UCLA and Cal bands, united by their mutual disdain of USC, to dress up as Greeks and Trojans to depict the legendary Trojan War. It is a show done every four years by UCLA and the visiting marching band, and this time we received the distinct honor of ragging on the USC Trojans. While most of my fellow bandsmen would be portraying the Greeks, a fair number of us, myself included, were given the difficult duty of representing the Trojans that both teams despised so much. I was enthusiastic to perform this show and “act,” far more so than with any other show I had done.

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That afternoon, the Cal and UCLA bands met up and practiced the show, and while we all held different levels of seriousness for this show, the ultimate result was a performance that I knew would be extremely popular and entertaining to the fans. With so many of us on the field, I could tell that the real thing would become extremely chaotic – and that was particularly interesting. Cal Band shows are generally pretty straightforward and scripted in specific ways, at least in my experience, but this show seemed highly improvised, especially when it came to form and movement. It held a certain charm, distinct from other performances. . The thought of how the fans would react to such a humorous and exciting show filled me with a great anticipation, further solidified by the similar excitement on the faces of my fellow bandsmen. With this anticipation in my mind and my spirits high, the band headed to the Rose Bowl, where our destiny awaited us.
And, as we all saw that night, our hopes and anticipations…were utterly crushed.
It would be accurate to state that our football team performed far worse than many had expected. espite this, we played on, and we continued to support our team, even as they trailed more and more, and continued to make more and more mistakes. We were in “enemy territory”, and were heckled and booed off the field after we had finished our pregame show. I had expected as much, and as such I was not shaken by it, even if I was far more used to being cheered off by our supportive fans. No need to feel bad about trying to cheer our own team on; it is the very reason Cal Band exists. We could only move forward and play our hearts out, for it was not the points that mattered, but our determination to continue to fight; such is the duty and struggle of a spirit team.
By the time we went onto the field for the halftime show, the score was a depressing 26-10, and some of us seemed already conceded to defeat. But, even if the game’s prospects were running at an all-time low, I put that aside for a moment to let loose and really have fun. That is why I became a Cal Band member, after all; I enjoy performing music, and I strive to make people smile. Even as I donned my despicable Trojan costume, I proudly marched into battle; the show had begun, and it ran without a hitch. Fueled by adrenaline and pride, I charged at the Greeks, my wooden sword in hand, my friends beside me; what an experience! The show was so free in regards to movement, action, and form, I did not feel that sense of nervousness that often accompanies other halftime shows I have done. And most importantly, bonded by common contempt for USC, the crowd loved us! It is these kinds of moments that, to me, make being a Cal bandsman so gratifying. With everyone, Cal and UCLA fans alike, cheering us on, I felt so very joyful and proud to be in the marching band. I felt so happy that I could put on a great show for everyone.
But I found, in the end, it was still impossible to satisfy everyone. My happiness was, unfortunately, fleeting.
Perhaps it was a lack of context, perhaps a miscommunication of our intents, or maybe even a violation of tradition, but our supporters back on the home front…hated it. California Golden Blogs, the leading fan page for the Golden Bears said on twitter “Cal band is dressed in red. This is embarrassing.”It was a sentiment shared not only by the fans but by some Cal Band alumni, who also criticized our use of red on the Trojan costumes. I could understand if we wore these costumes in any other context, but given that our costumes were worn for the sake of parody, I was confused and hurt. I tried to shrug it off, but I found that shaking off the spiteful words was much harder than I imagined. How could the Cal Band, which has collectively strived to support our football team through thick and thin, be seen as a disgrace to the university? Why would our fans turn their backs on us, when we never turned our backs on them? By the end of the third quarter, all hopes of a comeback seemed all but lost, and after hearing of the hateful comments, everyone was just flat-out tired. Tired of playing, tired of holding on to hope, tired of standing up in the stands, and most of all, tired of losing. Some of us simply ignored the game from then on, not even responding to any changes in the score; another group of us, angered by California Golden Blogs’ response to the show, retaliated at the backlash. And sadly, I think that most of us just did not care anymore. It would be a lie if I said I was not feeling these sentiments as well
By the time the game was over I could think of nothing but the idea that the band had not lived up to the standards of our fans. When approached by fellow bandsmen about the fan response, I pretended to laugh it off and act like I didn’t care. In the end I tried to convince myself that people would forget it ever happened. I held onto hope that the fans simply missed the context of the show, but self-doubt convinced me that the fans would have known that the show was parody, and that despite that, the fans still strongly disagreed with our costume choices. With all these thoughts spinning in my head, I could not sleep on the bus that night. The whole experience, intended to be fun and enjoyable, was soured. And at first I felt I had no one to blame but myself.
But I realized something in the days following the game. Those feelings I felt during the halftime show – that anticipation, the thrill, the utter joy I felt as the fans cheered us off the field…it was all real. The smiles on the faces of my friends as we charged the wall, the laughing we did as we walked off the field. Regardless of what any singular person or group had said, I could truly say that not only did I have fun, but the Cal Band had collectively done what we had set out to do – bring a driving force of support to our fans and the Golden Bears. I realize that it is always going to be impossible to appease every single fan out there, but it is okay, because we put our full effort into our performances. hough I cannot speak for all 200+ of us in Cal Band, I think we are all proud of what we managed to accomplish, even if we did not win the football game or win favor with all of our fans that night. Because for us in Cal Band, it is not about scores or tweets. It is about far more than that.
It is about being a proud member of the Golden Bear family.

- Dean Caudill

Thank you, Cal Women’s Basketball!

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Thank you for your incredible effort and a great season, @calwbball! It was a pleasure to represent the University of California and perform for our home crowd in the NCAA Tournament. Go Bears!

Last Game of the Season

We’re excited for the last game of the season in Haas Pavilion tonight at 6:00. Let’s #packthehaas and help send @calwbball to Albany for the Sweet 16! #GoBears #DoOneMore

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Cal Men’s Basketball in Las Vegas!

Proud of @calmensbball’s great hustle and effort in the #pac12hoops tournament in Las Vegas! #GoBears #TogetherWeAttack #FightForCalifornia

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