One of Northwestern State University’s claims to fame is their marching band. Known as “The Best-Sounding Band in the Land,” the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band is the largest collegiate marching band in Louisiana. Under the direction of Dr. Jeffery Matthews, the Spirit of Northwestern has performed first-rate field shows, participated in a variety of competitions and brought home numerous awards. However, like all of the other organizations at NSU, the Spirit of Northwestern has had to adapt to the circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the changes that have been made in light of the pandemic. This includes dividing the band into two groups for practice, remaining in the stands for the entirety of the football games as opposed to marching on the field and hosting one full performance last semester titled “Band Extravaganza.” The Spirit of Northwestern have proved themselves resilient in the face of the challenges sent their way.
Benjamin Wilkinson, a junior criminal justice major and trumpet player, has stated that the Spirit of Northwestern has not been dampened by the current circumstances. He states that while the marching band has had major procedural changes, they have still adapted to change and proved to be greatly resilient in the face of the pandemic’s restrictions.
“Well, all I can say is that from the past year, we adapted to major practice changes and procedures but it never hindered us from being the Best Sounding Band in the Land,” Wilkinson said, “The homogenous sound that the Spirit of Northwestern produces improves more and more throughout this pandemic. Not even COVID-19 can hold us back from achieving our main goals.”
Other NSU spirit groups also found themselves having to adapt to the pandemic. The Demon Dazzlers, the Purple Pizzazz Pom Line and Northwestern State University Cheer have had to remain in the stands instead of performing on the field. The Demon Dazzlers and Purple Pizzazz Pom Line have had their performances filmed as video packages and streamed to the video board during the football games.
Sarah Talbot, a junior dance major and Demon Dazzlers captain, stated that she is excited to be back in the game with the Demon Dazzlers. Although the Demon Dazzlers have had to adapt to the issues caused by the pandemic, they have undoubtedly found innovative and safe ways to continue to do what they are passionate about.
“Virtual performances have become a big thing for the Dazzlers this year. It has been a cool and different experience learning how to create dances that appeal to camera and film versus live performances,” Talbolt said. “Even though we still attend sporting events, our performances are usually still played through a screen. We’ve scaled back what we do at sporting events due to limited space, but still managed to create movements and dances that are still fun and exciting.”
Although the Dazzlers have had to perform both virtually and in the stands, Talbot says that it is an incredible feeling to be performing with the band again. Talbot also states that the energy from performing to live music is markedly different to performing to recorded music.
“I am most excited about dancing with the band again and being able to march on Turpin. Being in practices with the band is always an exciting experience and they always have such a positive attitude,” Talbolt said. “Also there is just something special about being able to dance to live music versus canned.”
The Demon Heat Color Guard has been notably absent from the football games, but it is one of the many precautions that they have had to take in light of the restrictions in place. However, the color guard have coped with it by fielding two separate competition teams. The two shows being performed by the teams are titled “Ringleader” and “Michael Jackson Medley.”
In spite of the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spirit of Northwestern remains resilient.