Leapfrog! APRIL 4, 2013 — EVANSTON, ILL. — Northwestern University football fans don't need to wait until the fall to start cheering their Wildcats. This Saturday, April 6, fans are invited to a free open-to-the-public practice session at Ryan Field on the Evanston campus at 10 a.m. The day also marks the kick-off of the 2013 performance season of the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band as they entertain fans from the stadium stands.

"This is always a fun event and a great way to get fired up for next fall!" says Daniel J. Farris, Northwestern's director of athletic bands.

Saturday's appearance of the band will be the first major event to feature Drum Majors Elisabeth Sladek (WCAS16) and Fritz Burgher (J14) in their new positions on the podium. Will Ritter (WCAS14) will also continue as drum major in the fall, but cannot attend Saturday. Burgher and Sladek are up to the challenge and are looking forward to the performance.

Warming Up the Fans When he was appointed, Burgher said he was looking forward to "joy of standing on the podium conducting this band and producing dynamic music."

During the event, Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald will also address the crowd to offer insight on the practice session as he puts the Wildcats through their spring paces.

A youth football clinic, for athletes in eighth grade and below, will follow the Wildcats' open practice. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in basic drills and learn fundamentals while interacting with members of the Northwestern football program. Free registration is required for the clinic by Friday, April 5, at the link above or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE.

In addition to the football practice and band performance, Northwestern and LifeSource are partnering to host the Purple Pride Blood Drive in the Ryan Field Stadium Club from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All registered donors will receive a free game ticket to any 2013 Wildcats home lacrosse game and photo opportunities with the 2012 NCAA acrosse Championship trophy and the 2013 Gator Bowl Championship trophy.

Fans may enter Ryan Field via gates P and Q starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. Complementary concessions will be available and parking in both the east and west lots of Ryan Field.

— Daniel M. Reck (GSESP08) with additional material from Northwestern Athletics

Photos by Daniel M. Reck (GSESP08)

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