Marching Illini return with changes to routine, uniforms


Lanie Hibel

Members of the trombone section of the Marching Illini perform on the steps of Foellinger Auditorium during Quad Day on Aug. 22. The band has changed their routine and uniforms to aid in increased fan reactions at sporting events.

By George Phelan, Staff Writer

The Marching Illini debuted several changes made to their band at the first University football game of the season Saturday. The changes alter the pregame introduction, with an entrance from the south tunnel of the stadium and a new fanfare designed to engage the audience more. 

Unfortunately, the debut of the Marching Illini’s redesigned uniforms will have to wait for the current heatwave to pass, and the band performed in their usual summer attire instead. 

The key change displayed at the Nebraska game was the altered routine. Barry Houser, director of athletic bands at the University, went over both the purpose and the nature of the changes.

“We typically line up on the field, so that everyone can see us and that’s where pregame begins, but we’re now starting from the horseshoe,” Houser said. “So as you come in the south tunnel, you’re not going to see the Marching Illini until pregame actually begins.”

During this new entrance, the Marching Illini also reintroduced the Big Ten flag display, which had been discontinued at the University in the late seventies.

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“We’ll have 15 individuals holding each flag representing the 14 institutions representing the Big Ten, and also the conference flag,” Houser said.

Not on display were the new uniforms made for the Marching Illini, although Houser and others were still excited to discuss the alterations that had been made.

“They look very similar to what we’ve worn in the past, however, there’s a bit of each uniform that we’ve worn here at the University of Illinois 153 years ago in this newer uniform,” Houser said. “It has different components that really tie in the different uniforms that we’ve had here.”

Nisha Sen, senior in LAS who is also the trumpets marching section leader, shared her thoughts about the new uniforms.

“We have no more gauntlets, so the sleeves are now a bit different,” Sen said. “They look a bit crisper, although I do miss the gauntlets.”

Alongside the inclusion of older elements and the removal of the gauntlets, the uniforms also feature custom-made buttons featuring the Marching Illini logo.

“It starts off with a slower fanfare and then it goes into a couple of different versions of the iconic beginning of Oskee in different keys until we eventually hit Oskee from the hold, which everyone knows, and then we march down the field, and we get to where we start our drill for the pregame show,” Sen said when asked about the new fanfare the Marching Illini would be playing before the game.

With the pandemic enforcing restrictions on game attendance, the Marching Illini were unable to perform at football games last year. The new pregame and uniforms are just as much of a callback to the University days before the pandemic as they are a new addition to the Marching Illini’s routine.

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