October 30, 2011 — EVANSTON, ILL. — After the Wildcat football team pasted the Indiana Hoosers with a 58-38 victory in Bloomington, Ind. yesterday, members of the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band will be playing today at a rematch of sorts between the two schools with a different kind of football. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m. for a men's soccer match between Northwestern and Indiana at Lakeside Field.
The band has just come off of a high-energy homecoming weekend which featured more than 140 Wildcat band alumni, known as NUMBALUMS, performing alongside the current NUMB students. About 40 graduates marched as their own unit in the homecoming parade last Friday night, and NUMBALUMS Joe Morrow and Sam Wlater hosted a pre-game tailgate on Saturday.
"It was a good drop-in opporutnity for alums who didn't want to march or play," says Amy Rushlow (J06), who once conducted the Wildcat band as its drum major.Even though the marching band has grown substantially over recent seasons, causing something of a squeeze in the Ryan Field stands as NUMBALUMS joined in, Rushlow says "the athletic department gave us ample room."
Homecoming fixture Glenn Opie (WCAS50) lead the NUMBALUMS down field during the pregame show, along with eight other past drum majors.
"The oldest NUMBALUM was Glenn Opie," says Rushlow. "The farthest travelled was Zak Moy from Redwood City, Calif."
Pete Friedmann (C79), the Voice of the Wildcat Band and also a NUMBALUM, presented framed awards to Moy and Opie during the bands' Wildcat Alley performance before the game. Opie was the NUMB drum major at the 1949 Rose Bowl game, after serving as a U.S. Navy radio operator in World War II. After graduation, he would go on to have a successful law practice, although he has become a homecoming fixture as reported in 2009 by Elizabeth Weingarten in Northwestern Magazine [includes video].
A halftime, fans delighted as the Northwestern band performed a revue of popular Beatles tunes, and the NUMBALUMS joined them on the field for the show's finale.
This year's homecoming festivities also featured a special panel discussion featuring the history of the band, which celebrates its one hundreth anniversary this season. Glenn Opie was joined by Donald Hubbard ('56), who also performed in the 1949 Rose Bowl game, as well as NUMBALUMS Richard Schory ('57), Elizabeth Hibben ('60), Kenneth Bartosz ('61) and Richard Moenning ('59).
"We had about 60 to 70 audience members," says NUMBALUM Christina Langlois (S94), "including all generations from NUMB Mother Marietta Paynter to current NUMB members." Marietta is the widow of late Wildcat band director John Paynter.
During the hour-and-a-half event, panelists covered everything from their first days in the band ("terrified" reports Langlois), to impressions of the directors and how the band helped shape their future lives.
"Everyone enjoyed the stories, with contributions and questions coming from the audience," says Langlois.
Today, Wildcat band members are creating some new stories to tell, as they give a rare performance in support of the Northwestern soccer team. The group appearing today is made up entirely of volunteers, many of whom were inspired by their time spent with the alumni who came before them, and who understand how important their music can be.
Says Daniel J. Farris, director of athletic bands, "It means a lot to the team, coaches, and fans."
—Daniel M. Reck (GSESP08)
Photos by Joe Filipas.