Although the Boston College football team has struggled with a 1-4 record this season, the gameday experience remains an integral part of many students’ typical fall weekend. The traditions and celebrations associated with gameday continue to fill the stands of Alumni Stadium with hundreds of Superfans each Saturday afternoon.
“Gameday is exciting for us,” said Jamie DiLoreto, associate athletic director, external operations. “For us, it’s an opportunity to put on a show.”
The athletics department and the BC bands work to bring students to games through a memorable experience, regardless of the outcome of the game.
Many of the promotions and give-aways that have become a staple of the gameday experience stem primarily from a relationship between UGBC and athletics.
“I feel as though our partnership with UGBC is strong and important, and it’s a priority for us to have a pulse on campus,” DiLoreto said. “We try to work with UGBC and students on campus to understand things that students would be interested in to create programming and giveaways.”
BC Marching Band Director David Healey commented on the marching band’s contribution to the gameday experience.
“The band really does provide a soundtrack for the game,” Healey said. “There are percussion parts that run throughout the game, and then we bring the rest of the ensemble in at different times. There are themes that coincide with whatever you see happening on the field.”
The marching band participates in the Eagle Walk, a pregame routine in the stadium approximately 20 minutes before kickoff, and the halftime show, as well as playing a variety of songs throughout the game.
“We try to obtain a diverse offering of music so that something appeals to everybody,” said Healey, who chooses the musical selections for the marching band.
In the past, when BC was a part of the Big East conference, 30 to 40 members of the band would travel to away venues at least once a year, Healey said. Now that the band has moved to the ACC, many schools are simply out of reach.
“We would consider traveling to games at UVA or Maryland, but it has to be a time that works in our schedule and we may not play them every year,” Healey said. “Once, we sent the entire band down to Wake Forest, but it ended up being a 20 hour bus ride each way, and when you’re only there for the game it makes for a very long trip.”
With Syracuse and Pittsburgh being added to the ACC, the band may have more opportunities to travel in the future. Either way, the students contribute dozens of hours to the program. The 180 members of the marching band and visual teams train for over 200 hours throughout the fall, including a 10 day training camp before classes begin in August.
“The band students are remarkable,” Healey said. “It’s a real sincere pleasure to work with them. They don’t receive scholarships or academic credit for their work—they completely volunteer because they love playing, they love the school, and they love to support the team.”
DiLoreto echoed the same sentiments. “Everybody from the top down, from the coaches to the players, realizes how important the band is,” he said. “A lot of the cheers and the energy and tradition from the student section comes from the marching band.”
Despite a disappointing beginning to the season, DiLoreto said that it is the athletic department’s goal to provide an enjoyable gameday experience to every Eagles fan.
“We want students and fans to have a memorable experience, no matter the outcome or the scores,” he said. “If you look at our overall student population, I believe we have one of the best student fan populations in the country. Football games are one of the few times you see such a large number of students getting together beyond convocation and commencement.”
According to Brad Truman, associate director of sports marketing and licensing, students can be a huge part of the team’s success and the atmosphere of gameday.
“Students are an integral part of the gameday experience,” Truman said. “When the student section is full when the team runs out of the tunnel, it’s a huge lift for the team. We need the students, the team needs the students, and a lot of our coaches say that the fans are a huge part of the team. ♦