The Experience: Atlas Wass

Hearing about the “college experience” and actually experiencing it are two very different things, especially with the Marching Virginians.  

 Anne Kelly Newman being lifted by her section while the band plays “Superman;” Source:  The Spirit of Tech

Anne Kelly Newman being lifted by her section while the band plays “Superman;” Source: The Spirit of Tech

Before I decided to come to Virginia Tech, I looked up the Marching Virginians (of course I was going to audition for the band of whatever college I went to). There, on the front page of The Spirit of Tech website, was someone I would later come to know as Anne Kelly Newman, my section leader. She was being lifted by several other people and smiling from ear to ear. I watched almost every video of the Marching Virginians and listened to the music. I was enamored. 

Once I decided to come to Tech, I signed up to audition as fast as I could. Band camp was wild – hours of marching combined, with more socializing than I had done during the entire summer, crammed into about two weeks. Between the summer heat, high stepping, and trying to tune piccolos: how could I not have a good time? 

By that point, I’d mostly accepted that I was going to live a solitary college life. Study as much as possible, have all my homework done in advance, and sleep 10 hours a night. Even if I was terrible with time management, I could still make it work. After all, college was just college, and I was preparing for the rest of my life, right?

Wrong.

 Atlas Wass and and the piccolo’s Rank 7 posing together on game day; Source: Alyssa Wills

Atlas Wass and and the piccolo’s Rank 7 posing together on game day; Source: Alyssa Wills

I was placed into Rank 7. Led by Emily Wills, rank 7 is what I can only describe as a wild ride. I quickly formed different relationships with each member of my rank – roasting the rank with Dijuan, constantly preparing to play fight with Bill, “protecting the bike” with Joan and Emily, and laughing with Jordan at the sheer insanity that is rank 7. 

Soon enough, I found that my rank, crazy as they may seem, has provided more of a community than I ever expected to have at Tech. Even if I’m having a bad day, my rank finds a way to make me laugh. Rehearsal becomes a little more fun, with jokes whispered as we pass by each other with arms linked to form a pinwheel on the field. 

The entire section is a community of laughter, stress-baking and hugs. Whether I’m learning new drill or struggling in class, they support me just like they did Anne Kelly Newman on the front page of The Spirit of Tech – and they didn’t drop me when I was lifted! As cliché as it sounds, it’s true: the pix are a family – on and off the field. 

 The piccolo’s game day pyramid; Source: Maggie North

The piccolo’s game day pyramid; Source: Maggie North