Game Day starts with an early morning wake up call and a long walk up to the MVC where members of the Marching Virginians are feasting on poptarts. Five minutes before rehearsal begins, a long whistle will sound and hundreds of musicians pour out onto the field. But what about those in the band who don’t march? Their Game Day looks just a little bit different.
Fifteen minutes before the bulk of MVs arrive, the managers are already there, preparing for the day ahead. Beginning with setting up the field and ending with cleaning the stands after everyone leaves, a manager’s work is never done.
While the band rehearses, some of the managers make their way down to the stadium to get the bleachers ready for when the band arrives. They put pallets of water bottles out, lay out drum stands, and set up the ladder for the drum majors, all before Game Day lunch.
When it’s time to march to the stadium, the managers make sure that tailgaters are out of the way of the stampede about to pass through. Just before the band enters the stadium, they form barriers to prevent fans from cutting through the band as they make their entrance.
During the first half, they enjoy the game like everybody else, but once halftime approaches everybody has a job to do. Some will get the plumes ready for the band, others will get the podiums ready to roll for the show, and the remaining few will refill the waters and put out the Game Day apples.
After the game ends and the band leaves, most of the managers stay behind to clean up the bleachers and make sure nothing is left behind. Once they’re finished tidying up, they leave for the MVC in the golf carts to lock up and enjoy a job well done.
The managers do a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the MVs and, in addition to learning all about their Game Day experience, I was able to speak to a few current and past managers to find out what they like most about the position:
What is your favorite part about being a manager for the MVs?
“My personal favorite part of the job is passing out plumes to all of my friends; it’s so exciting to wish them “good luck” on the show. This is also a great opportunity to meet new people and foster the Gameday atmosphere.”
-Noelle Baxter, MV Manager Fall 2017, 2018
“Whether it’s a rehearsal or a performance, my favorite part about being a manager has always been listening to the band. I remember during rehearsals just stopping whatever I was doing because I just needed to listen to the band. It’s almost like a runner’s high, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The MVs behind the MVs made for a great social atmosphere that I was lucky enough to be a part of.”
-Bryan Sablan, MV Manager Fall 2016, 2017; VTuba Fall 2018
“The best part of managing is the relationships you form. Not only do you have your section, you get know know all of the other sections of the band very easily. Because you have jobs associated with the whole band and don't have to focus on music, you can branch out to other sections.”
-Alex Springer, MV Manager Fall 2016, 2017; VT Drumline Fall 2018
“I enjoy the relationships that we build. I believe that the manager section builds some of the strongest relationships of any section. I think that is due to there being only 14 of us, but I also think this comes from the fact that we have to learn to trust each other to get our job done, so that the band can move from place to place as efficiently as possible.”
-Thomas Davis, MV Manager Fall 2017; Head Manager Fall 2018
Why did you elect to become a manager after being cut?
“After cuts I knew that I still wanted to be a part of the Marching Virginians. It is very important to me to stick with activities and people that I love.”
“I really, really, really wanted to be in the band. I picked up tuba that summer and hammered away trying to become a good enough musician to play in the band. Alas, I wasn’t experienced enough and I was cut. Syd urged me on to become a manager to be with the band and to keep practicing. I did exactly that and two years later I had an opportunity to march onto the field with the band for my first ever halftime show.”
“I decided to become a manager after getting cut from the drumline. I knew it would be hard, but I wanted to be a part of this amazing organization. No matter the form, I wanted to be an MV!”
“After being cut from the trumpet section for the 2017-2018 season, I talked to Kelly, the Head Manager for the 16-17 and 17-18 seasons, and found out how important managers were to the success of the band. The manager section gives me a way to still be involved in the MV’s, but in a different capacity. I would never trade the experiences and the lessons I have learned in this section over the past two years. I look forward to everything I hope to learn this coming year in my last season.”
Would you recommend becoming a manager to someone who didn’t make it as an instrumentalist?
“Of course I would recommend becoming a manager!!!! Although the tasks are mostly menial, it is so rewarding to know I’m contributing to the “Gameday feeling” and making the day an enjoyable experience for everyone.”
“Absolutely. It’s a great way to be a part of the band!”
“I would definitely recommend being a manager. The initial sting of being cut is softened with the camaraderie of your fellow managers, who were also cut. I also made friendships that will last me a lifetime and I wouldn't trade them for the world. You just get to experience the band in a completely new way.”
“I would definitely recommend it. Being the one of the smallest sections in the band definitely fosters a familial atmosphere. Sometimes it can be a really tough job, but at the end of the day, we walk away closer as a section. Also, quite a few members of the MVs are former managers. Being in the section allows you to still have a band experience. Many have made the band after one, two, or even three years of being a manager, so you never know what the future holds.”