Joining the Marching 110 as a freshman in 2014 was one of the most rewarding, yet stressful, experiences of my life. The class of 2018 had more members audition for the 110 than any other class in the history of the band, so competing for a spot against so many others was definitely intimidating. But I quickly realized that all I needed to do was drive it, make it better, and get there as fast as I possibly could in order to become an official member of the Marching 110.
However, this year’s audition process was a little different. In years past, prospective members would arrive to campus on Friday, a week before classes started, paying an extra $100 or so to stay in the dorms. Immediately, they began learning the basics and preparing for their music and marching auditions on Sunday, only two days after moving in. For some students, not making the band would mean either staying in Athens during training week, which is the week before classes began, or going home for another few days. This was a definite obstacle for many students who wanted to audition for the 110, but didn’t want to risk losing their money and time in the process.
But the revamped 2015 audition process wiped out this issue completely. Instead of dealing with the uncertainty of making the band when arriving on campus, prospective members will now know the results months before move-in. This summer, interested students submitted a video recording of themselves playing selected audition music on their respective instruments, and were scored according to their style, tone, note accuracy, etc. One big difference for this year is that marching is no longer included in the prospective member’s score when considering them for a permanent spot in the band. However, it is included during the marching and music placement auditions, which still occur during the Sunday of freshman training camp, in order to determine block placement for pregame, halftime, and sideline alternates. And unlike previous years, current members of the 110 do not have to re-audition for the following year; they are grandfathered in instead.
As illustrated in the “Get There! Episode 1” video, this redesigned audition process has already proved to be very successful for the 110 this season. Although marching isn’t technically included in the initial audition process, official band members are still expected to rehearse and perform up to the respected standards of the 110, which have been a driving force in the band’s success for many years.
“Better Than the Best Ever,” was coined by Ronald P. Socciarelli, director of the Marching 110 from 1973 to 1989, and has been an outstanding ideal for the organization’s members ever since. Defining the level of persistence and determination that this iconic phrase describes is difficult, but not impossible. It’s almost like a way of life, both on and off the field, for many of the members of the 110, according to 2015 Field Commander Dylan Chase.
“That extra 10 percent effort from every marcher really pushes us to stand out from the crowd,” says Chase, who plays trombone. “I think that also isn’t just on the field, but I think that’s in general with our lives, is that we should strive to give 110 percent, strive to be better than the best ever at everything that we do.”
To Dr. Richard Suk, director of the Marching 110, being “Better Than the Best Ever” doesn’t mean being better than others—instead, it’s a way to set higher personal and group goals for each and every season, performance, and rehearsal.
“It’s a goal to better ourselves, not to be better than other people,” says Dr. Suk, who has been directing the 110 since 1995. “Perfection is the goal, and we’re getting as close to that as we can.”
But being “Better Than the Best Ever” isn’t the only mantra that the 110 lives by. There’s also “get there”, “stick it”, and a variety of other expressions that have been coined by field commanders throughout the years, such as “Never Settle”, which was the catchphrase of Jared Halter, the field commander (FC) in 2014.
Each year, the current FC sticks with a certain catchphrase throughout the entire season to motivate the band. Unlike some FC’s in the past who have planned out their sayings in advance, Chase had no idea what his was going to be when the season began. But during his Friday night speech to the old men, or returning members, in Memorial Auditorium, Chase unknowingly said one phrase over and over again.
“I did my speech, and I didn’t even catch it, but everybody told me I said ‘Make it Better’ probably the most, so it just kind of stuck,” says Chase. “‘Make’ it Better’ is everything that I stand for as a leader… figure out what it is you could make better, even if you think it was perfect, there’s always something that you can push even farther.”
As the Bobcats faceoff Marshall in the first home game of 2015, be prepared to watch the Marching 110 “drive it” at halftime, giving it everything they’ve got to “Make it Better” so that they can be “Better Than the Best Ever.”
Written by Amanda Weisbrod
*The author of this blog is also a member of the Marching 110.