UMass Amherst Marching Band Joins Football Team to Perform at Division 1-AA Title Game

AMHERST, Mass. - Both the award-winning University of Massachusetts Marching Band and award-winning UMass football team will be playing in Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., Sat., Dec. 19. The football team will be competing in the Division 1-AA championship game against Georgia Southern in a game to be televised nationally on ESPN starting at 2 p.m. The band will perform at a half-time show. Both the band and the team have won major national honors in the past year. The band received the 1998 Louis C. Sudler Trophy, the highest honor that can be awarded to a collegiate marching band. The trophy, presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, recognizes bands of particular excellence which have made outstanding contributions to the field, while relying on the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas. The trophy can be awarded only once to any institution. The football team won the 1998 Lambert/Meadowlands Football Award for Division 1-AA as the top team in the East. UMass last won the Lambert Cup in 1978 when it played in the NCAA Division 1-AA championship game. Also, UMass first-year head football coach Mark Whipple has been named the 1998 New England Coach of the Year in Division 1 by the New England Football Writers and the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. Whipple was also named the GTE Region 1 Coach of the Year in Division 1-AA by the American Football Coaches Association. "This is a great year for the University of Massachusetts," Chancellor David K. Scott said. "Like Star Trek, we are venturing where we have hardly been before. To have our award-winning band play for our award-winning football team adds another dimension of excitement and momentum to the University." George N. Parks, director of the Minuteman Marching Band, said the band will fly to Chattanooga late on Friday, and will sleep on the floor at the local gym in order to get up early on Saturday and practice for the half-time performance. He said: "Band members are ecstatic to be able to perform and to cheer on the UMass team. When we made the announcement that we would be performing at the game, band members cheered and shouted, they were so excited." Parks said this will be the band''s first plane flight to perform at a football game since 1964 when the UMass team played in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. He said the performance marks the first time the band has ever played at a nationally televised football game. The band will perform selections from the musical "West Side Story" and the from rock band "Chicago."