Halftime marches on

By Michael Logli

The mass of orange-clad students known as Illini fans cheered like always when the marching band performed at the halftime show during Saturday night’s home opener. But instead of cheering for the band or the team, some students cheered in memory of the former symbol, Chief Illiniwek.

Aimee Lusson, senior in LAS, said that it was sad not seeing the Chief at halftime this year after seeing him her other years.

Besides the Chief paraphernalia worn by many fans on both shirts and hats, some fans in the stadium went as far as painting their faces in the Chief’s image and imitating his costume. Even without the Chief, he still seemed to be a part of the tradition, said Amy Mack, senior in AHS.

“It’s clear that he was missed,” Mack said. “But people carried on like he was there.”

The Chief chants continued during the halftime show, starting and stopping erratically until the halftime-ending Three-In-One, a regular Marching Illini performance. In the absence of the Chief but with the amended “ILL” and “INI” Marching Illini formations, some students chanted about the Chief during the halftime show.

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Although some are angered over the Chief’s retirement, other fans understand why, and have moved on, said Jim Dubay, junior in LAS.

“After many years of frustration, it has to end this way,” Dubay said. “To me, it’s apparent that we’re not disrespecting the Native American tribe as fans, but it’s just the way things turned out.”

Following the halftime performances, the game continued and resulted in a 21-0 victory for the Fighting Illini. Some fans still commented on the absence of the Chief during the show

“I miss him,” Lusson said. “It’s not the same.”

The Marching Band may have brought the word ILLINI formation together, but many fans remain divided over the existence and eventual ousting of the Chief.