Ohio University's marching band has been around for 100 years, and a lot has happened between 1923 and today. When the band began in 1923, it only had 40 members, which is quite different from its 225 members today. According to the band's website, Homer Baird assembled the marching band, then known as the "Ohio University Marching Band." The band then grew in size and popularity until 1949. In 1950, the OUMB became an all women's marching band while the men were off at war. Then, in 1967, Gene Thrailkill brought about one of the most controversial decisions in the history of the band.
Thrailkill announced all the women would be removed from the band. Not even the majorettes were spared from this decision. The name of the band was changed to the "100 Marching Men of Ohio," then it was changed again to the "110 Marching Men of Ohio" the very next year.
A previous report by The Post described it as "total asininity." A quote from the article read, "No longer will we be able to applaud at halftime when an excellent and DIFFERENT (perish at the thought) band marches onto the field in MODERN dress and performs an entertaining and MODERN show. Now we're just going to be like every other university."
Martin Osborne was a member of the "110 Marching Men of Ohio" from 1970 to 1974. He played baritone and was also a choreographer and a primary arranger during his time in the band. He recounted one of his memories from his time as a marcher.
Once, the band was invited to three events in one weekend in November 1972. Friday night was a halftime performance at Ottowa High School, Saturday night was the Bowling Green vs. OU football game and Sunday, the 110 Marching Men were invited to play at the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Cincinnati Bengals game.
Osborne remembers it as quite an eventful weekend as the students had to drive their own cars from place to place due to budget cuts, and they received poor instructions on how to get to their hotel in Pittsburgh.
Members of the Marching 110 Band perform on College Green. Sept. 26 2023
"It happened to be one of the most memorable trips we ever had," said Osborne. "It also was a bonding experience for the band."
In 1975, the band became known by the iconic name it is known as today: The Marching 110. Ronald Socciarelli, the band director from 1973 to 1989, reinstated women in the marching band. He spoke about new technological advancements in a 1982 article in The Post titled, "Band director tunes up for a new Bobcat Season." He detailed how the band learned a pregame in 27 minutes with the help of mathematics, a grant and computers.
"It really helps a lot with learning a new show," Socciarelli said. "This year we learned pregame in 27 minutes. It used to take us two and a half days to learn that."
The article goes on to talk about the many special events planned for the year aside from the excitement of the football games. This wasn't the only jam-packed year the "Marching 110" has had. The band is no stranger to getting invited to play special events and make guest appearances. In 1976, right after the band was renamed the Marching 110, they became the first marching band to play at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
In 2001, the marching band performed at the first game at the New York Giants Stadium since the devastating attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout the years, the marching band has also played at multiple NFL games, Bill Clinton's Inaugural Parade (1993), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (2000 and 2005) and even the hit game show "Deal or No Deal" (2006). 10 years ago, the Marching 110 went international when they performed in Dublin, Ireland and Vatican City, Rome.
Today, under the direction of Richard Suk, the band has been hard at work preparing for performances, halftime shows and, of course, Homecoming. Eric Steere, a senior trumpet player and field captain, talked about what goes into preparing for performances each season.
The band meets Monday through Friday, practicing and perfecting their seamless performances. They hold an additional practice on Thursday nights and Saturdays before the big football game.
"We are given the music, and it's our responsibility to learn the music, memorize the music, figure it out, so you can't mess it up," said Steere. "We played as a band a few times, but that is mostly our time to come together and work as an ensemble instead of individually."
The band reclaims its title as "the most exciting band in the land" week after week, bringing audiences from all over to see the spectacle of the Marching 110. And year after year, Athens looks forward to when members past and present join together to create that sweet symphonic sound. Alum and current students alike look forward to seeing what the band will masterfully put together for the favorite game of many. So "Stand Up and Cheer" because Homecoming is here.