Experience the Toyota Gator Bowl through the eyes of Lauren Black, a WVU freshman who plays in the “Pride of West Virginia” Mountaineer Marching Band. Lauren?s posts will chronicle the band’s bowl experience Dec. 28-Jan. 2. Check back often for daily updates and photos.
Well, I hope that everyone loved to read my blog, I know I loved to write it and to fill you in about what we were up to down in Florida. I hope through me, those of you stuck at home could get a feel for what it was like here. I have enjoyed every moment of this trip, from band rehearsals, to playing on the beach on New Years Eve, to the Gator Bowl victory, it has been one of the very best weeks of my life, one that I will cherish in my heart forever, and it has been a privilege and an honor to share it with you. I thank you again so much for reading, now?
LET?S GO MOUNTAINEERS!!
And may everyone have a happy and prosperous new year. Only seven and a half or so months until football season!
December 31, 2006?11:40 PM
What a New Year’s Eve! The day started out with our last rehearsal of the year, it was pretty short and we did have fun and got done what needed to be done. Next I headed to the Mountaineer Fan Center, and that was amazing! There were so many people there, I could not believe it! There were a lot of activities for fans to participate in and to get a closer Mountaineer connection. Such activities include DDR (Dance Dance Revolution), a football toss, free gear giveaways, and a program called “The Question” where questions were prompted to visitors such as “What is a team?” and “is winning everything?” and visitors could write down their and they would be colleted and then shown online, provided by the WVU Philosophy Department. I had so much fun there. I got to dress up like a football player and got my picture taken, I got to throw three out of four successful passes, and I got to play DDR in my band uniform! Haha! It was a really cool place for fans to meet and get together. There was a mini-band that came, and it was neat to be able to watch them instead of being part of them. After our stint at the Fan Center, we headed to the pep rally at Jacksonville Landing. That was a really amazing experience. There were so many fans there, all yelling and going crazy! It was so hot out, but the mountaineer fans were there nevertheless to cheer on their team. One thing that made me giggle a bit, was whenever we played “Country Roads” or “Fight Mountaineers” people would hold up their cell phones to record it! I thought that was pretty neat. After that was done, we sat in our nicely air conditioned buses to wait to march in the Gator Bowl Parade. Yes, it was hot enough that we needed the AC. I think it was in the high 80s today. The parade wasn’t too long, and there was a nice breeze so it stayed cooler. The best part of it was the fact that it looked like the entire state of West Virginia showed up for this game! There must have been like 20 WVU fans for every one Georgia Tech fan! It seemed pretty overwhelming in our favor, but I have absolutely no problem with that! After the parade, we all headed home to prepare for New Years festivities. My friends, Lorraine, Terry, James, Heather, Chad, Ryan, Jason, and Lorraine’s brother Jake, and I all decided to drive to the beach. That was a lot of fun. We played games on the beach and walked in the surf. The stars were so beautiful and the water was cool but refreshing. We wrote in the sand and took many pictures, and found jellyfish. We also stood in a circle and sang “Country Roads” also we marched “Simple Gifts” on the beach just because. It was absolutely the most memorable time I have ever had with my friends. We arrived back at the hotel in time to celebrate the beginning of the New Year with the rest of the band. We all stood on the balconies surrounding our court yard and sang “Country Roads” together. Afterward, we all ran around hugging each other and saying our Happy New Years. It was a New Years that I will never forget, a New Years with all my friends together in one place. Now it’s game day. I’ll be getting some sleep now so I can be ready to go when we bring on the Mountaineers!!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Well it is officially New Years Eve! We just got back from Universal about 5 minutes ago. What a day! It was definitely the most fun yet. I have a feeling that they are just going to keep getting better too! Firstly, I would like to thank everyone that has been leaving me those great comments! I love hearing from you guys! It makes me even more proud to be doing this, and to be a mountaineer! Well today started off bright and early indeed with a wake-up call at 4:30 AM, but luckily the bus ride to Orlando takes about 3-4 hours so I got to finish sleeping then. Soon after arriving at Universal Studios, we unloaded the buses and practiced a while. After a while we all lined up and we marched into Universal and stood in parade block and played a few selections for the not quite small crowd, but still not very large one. Nevertheless, it was pretty fun, my first official, bowl game performance! Haha! The cheerleaders and our Mountaineer, Brady Campbell, were there as well to provide some more entertainment for the audience. There were a good many mountaineer fans there to watch us, and also a lot who were not. It was pretty cool. After we finished our concert, we marched out of the park and got changed into our street clothing, ready to hit the parks. We had tickets that permitted us to go from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure all day long. My friends and I were pretty hungry after our performance, as it was lunch time, so we got some grub first and then we made a beeline for the Hulk roller coaster in Islands of Adventure. We waited a long time, but it was worth it, it was a great ride! It was fast and had lots of twists, turns, loops, and upsidowns, which is exactly how I like my roller coasters! Next, we headed to the Dueling Dragons roller coaster. It had two separate tracks with two trains that ?dueled? and raced each other. My friends and I sat in the front seats of the two trains so we could duel each other but somehow our line calculating to get on the same ride got off and half of our group ended up one train ahead of us! Nevertheless, that ride was awesome! I guess I am a bit partial to inverted coasters (where the track is above you and your feet hang down, like a ski lift), but it was definitely my favorite ride of the day. The next part of the day was my absolute favorite area, the Jurassic Park Island! ?Jurassic Park? is one of my most favorite movies so I was quite excited to be there. Some of our group decided to forgo the Jurassic Park River Ride, so we had five left, exactly the number of seats in one row on the ride! Imagine that! The ride was pretty cool, with Stegosauruses, Velociraptors (which are my favorite dinosaurs), and of course, the big baddy, the Tyrannosaurus Rex! Then just as we are about to go over the big drop, our boat stops and will not move again! We started laughing about our predicament. So when the people in the boats behind us began singing ?Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? my friend Robin turned to me and said, ?Let?s sing ?Country Roads!?? So we did, we sang ?Country Roads? in the Jurassic Park ride. Now you can?t tell me that we are not true mountaineers! Eventually the ride did move and we went down the hill, but the T-Rex that is supposed to attack us didn?t attack, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but it was okay. The rest of our group, my friends Tristan, Mitchell, Robin, and James, and I decided to ride this ride like the teacups that spin at Disney World. We crammed 5 college students into this very small car, and I must say our knees might never forgive us! We were laughing so much at ourselves that we couldn?t even spin our car! By that time we were all quite hungry, so we decided to go eat at Margaritaville at City Walk. It was really neat. We sat out on a deck in the warm Florida evening listening to Jimmy Buffett music. We played some games and joked around until we got our food, which was really good. After dinner, we had about an hour left to kill before we had to go to the buses, so we walked around City Walk and took lots of fun pictures. We found one of those little photo booths and again we displayed our champion cramming skills and stuffed ourselves into that tiny booth and took pictures. It was so much fun, quite the memorable day indeed. Well?tomorrow, well technically it is today, we will be going to the parade and the pep rally. That is going to be quite fun indeed, I can?t wait! Also it?s New Year?s Eve; that means lots of fun too! Don?t forget to check out the fan center and who knows, you may get to see me! I can?t wait to see what the fan center looks like, from what I hear, it?s really cool! Well, I must be getting to bed now, so I will catch up with you all later!
Wriiten December 31, 2006?12:06 AM
Well today was quite the eventful day indeed. My last entry I left you in the middle of our first rehearsal. The rest of rehearsal went splendidly! We did very well in learning our drill formations for halftime and refreshing our memory of our well known pre-game show. For pre-game, we will be starting from the infamous ?Simple Gifts Circles? and play through ?Country Roads.? For halftime, we will be playing ?White Rabbit? and ?Children of Sanchez.? Both shows rehearsed very well today and I am sure that we will knock the socks off of everyone in that stadium!
Rehearsal was very long, but to me, I didn?t really notice. I guess you would say that I was just having so much fun, and it?s true! I love getting to hang out with my friends in Rank 8, the rank that I belong to and that I marched with all season long. I missed seeing my friends over break, and it was cool to be back at picking on each other again, having grass fights, races to see who can get to their spot the quickest, and just general having fun. Don?t worry though, with all the fun that we are having, it comes along with much hard work. Then again, that is just what marching band is really about; being able to have a lot of fun, yet still get the job done and perform a killer show. That is just one aspect of band that I love the most.
The weather is really warm here. I believe that the forecast for tomorrow is in the mid to upper 70s and sunny. That should make for a good day in Universal Studios. As for right now, I am getting ready to head out to dinner with my bus. I will definitely be doing some serious sleeping tonight. Tomorrow breakfast will be served at 5:00 AM. Yep, I have to get a good night?s sleep tonight. I can?t wait until all the big festivities get underway for the Gator Bowl. It still hasn?t hit me yet that it?s a bowl trip! I guess it will really hit me once I see the Georgia Tech fans, and march in the parade, and go to the pep rally. I can?t wait!
P.S. On Sunday I will be at the Fan Center with the mini-band! Come out and see me and let me know you?ve been reading!
Until next time,
Last night was pretty fun, the bus ride that is. We played some fun bus games and watched some great movies, including one of my favorites ?Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.? After that movie everyone was quoting it for the rest of the night; it was pretty funny. We made a few stops at rest stations to use the bathroom and to stretch our legs. Trying to sleep on a bus is challenging at best. I?m a little tired this morning, but it is nothing that some coffee and Mountain Dew couldn?t remedy.
So now we are officially in Jacksonville at our rehearsal. It feels nice to play my clarinet again, as I really haven?t played since the Rutgers game. The beach is only a few blocks away right now and all of us are dying to go, even if just to dip our feet in. It?s still kind of funny that here I am walking around in shorts and talking about going to the beach at the end of December! That?s nothing I thought I?d ever do!
After rehearsal today we will head to our hotel and check in. After that, we have the night off to go have fun and hang out. I?m really looking forward to that part, but right now it?s time to work, and you can?t just have fun without any work! Then again, marching band can hardly be called work; it?s just too much fun! Well, I better go practice so I will update you all later about the goings on here with the Pride of West Virginia!
See you all later, and?
Today started bright and early for me. I left my home in Shippensburg, PA at 10 AM. It was my first time driving by myself to Morgantown, so I was a little nervous. I didn?t have to worry at all, I made it in one piece. I picked up my friend in Hagerstown and the trip went much faster after that. Every time we saw a sign on the interstate that said ?West Virginia? or ?Morgantown? we yelled in excitement.
When we arrived in Morgantown we were so excited. It was really neat to see all of my friends again after the break. Everyone was saying ?Hi!!?, hugging, exchanging Christmas presents and catching up. We all made our way to the band office to pick up our ?per diem? and the itinerary for the trip. After that, we all got our gear out of our cars and lined up on the sidewalk to get on the buses. When they finally pulled in it was a mad rush to get the best seats on the bus. I was lucky and was one of the first people on the bus and I got a great seat. Now we are all waiting to pull out.
Now I have some time to think about what lies ahead. This is my very first bowl trip, ever. I am so excited for it. All season the upperclassmen tell all the freshmen what it is like to be at a bowl game, and now I actually get to participate in one! It?s so exciting!
We are doing so much in these few days. Tomorrow we are arriving in Jacksonville around noon and then going straight to rehearsal. What is cool, is that we have the rest of the night off! I am not sure what we will do then, but I know we will have so much fun.
I really don?t know what to expect out of this trip, other than it will probably be the most fun and most memorable five days of my life, and I can?t wait to see what unfolds.