By Kelli Stopczynski
WSBT TV Reporter
11:17 AM EDT, August 30, 2012
A gentle rainfall on a recent Sunday sent some University of Notre Dame marching band members inside the Loftus Sports Center for practice. The air inside was much more muggy and humid than out and the more they marched, the more sweat beaded on their necks and foreheads. But complaining didn’t happen.
“Now that it’s here it’s kind of unreal,” said senior band president and trombone player Samantha Matthew.
“It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s definitely been worth it,” added drum line senior Eric Dowdey.
Matthew and Dowdey first found out the 2012 Notre Dame/Navy match up would be in Ireland when they were freshman.
“It’s definitely, you know, been in the back of my mind for a long time,” Dowdey said.
When the trip was first announced four years ago, the band wasn’t going to be able to go because of a lack of funding. Since then, two donors stepped up – one from Ireland and one from the United States – to pay for the trip.
This year has been different than any other that marching band members or their director can remember. It started with separate auditions for the Dublin game.
Only 165 of the more than 400 marching Irish were selected to go to Ireland. Band Director Dr. Ken Dye said the 165 members were selected based on seniority and performance.
“We’ve had these separate rehearsals starting with a couple days after we got here,” Matthew explained. “During band camp we started rehearsing just with the folks that are going to Ireland about an hour to an hour and a half each day, in addition to the rehearsals we've been doing with the entire marching band.
So we're kind of learning two shows at once. We're learning our show for Purdue with the whole band and our show for Ireland with the 165 of us that are going.”
But learning the music and formations for this weekend’s show was only half the battle. The logistics of getting their uniforms, instruments and equipment across the ocean was a show of its own.
“It’s been interesting,” Dowdey said. “We actually had a small portion of the band go over for spring break last semester and they did a parade, they did a little concert there so they actually left some of our instruments over there in storage.”
“There’s so much logistics with a marching band – a lot of equipment, uniforms, spare instruments, sticks, mouth pieces, you name it,” added Dye.
Wednesday after class, the band boarded buses to South Bend Regional Airport, equipment and all.
So what were they most looking forward to before boarding a chartered 737 to the Emerald Isle?
For Director Dye, it’s the half time performance at the game.
For Dowdey, it’s the Friday night pep show.
“It’s a show we do with a bunch of Irish singers and artists. It’s about an hour long,” he said. “I’m just excited for that because it shows us more of the Irish culture and the music culture over there and we get to interact with the Irish bands and the natives.”
For Matthew, it’s the game.
“Just seeing all the Irish fans in Ireland when we get on the field and are finally there, it will be just a great moment,” she said.
The band’s plane stopped in Newfoundland to refuel during the six-hour pilgrimage to Dublin. They leave for the states on Sunday.
As for what to expect during Saturday’s halftime show?
Dye would only say it’s “very Irish.”
Very fitting for a group of young men and women who are synonymous with Notre Dame football.
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