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Ohio State Marching Band alumni to march for 40th year of women in band

The OSU Marching Band plays at halftime of the OSU vs. Buffalo Aug. 31. OSU won, 40-20. This year marks the 40th anniversary of women first joining the band. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

The OSU Marching Band plays at halftime of the OSU vs. Buffalo Aug. 31. OSU won, 40-20. This year marks the 40th anniversary of women first joining the band. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

The field of Ohio Stadium is set to be covered in Ohio State legacy come halftime of Saturday’s game.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of women first joining the Ohio State Marching Band, and alumni from the band are set to join their successors on the field Saturday to perform the iconic Script Ohio formation ­— times four.

Shelley Graf, the first female drum major not only at OSU but in the entire Big 10, took the assistant drum major position in 1980 and the main role in 1981. She is set to lead the west-side Script Ohio with one of the original five women in the OSU Marching Band, Jan Duga, dotting the “I”, Graf said.

“When I think back, I never thought I’d ever do something like this. It’s such a thrill to be a part of the band,” Graf said. “They’re a very special group of people, that’s for sure.”

Graf has marched with the alumni since she graduated in 1983.

“I’m just proud to be a part of the band,” Graf said.

The band formed in 1878 as a drum corps with a drum major conducting the band. In the early 1920s, the drum major transitioned to more of an entertainment-like role, according to the OSU Libraries blog.

G. Edwin Essington, the drum major from 1920 to 1922, led the transition from traditional military band to the one focused on showmanship known today with baton twirling and charismatic enthusiasm, according to the blog.

David Pettit, a fourth-year in piano performance and head drum major, is ready to continue Essington’s legacy with the same people who helped build it over the years.

“I always think about the people who came before me when I’m getting ready,” Pettit said.

Pettit served as assistant drum major last year. As a fourth-year, he said he knows many of the recent alumni.

“A lot of these alumni, especially the alumni drum majors that are coming back, are a lot of my good friends now, my teachers and my coaches,” Pettit said, “so it’s really a lot of fun for me to be able to be on the field with them and perform together.”

John Banghoff, a third-year in atmospheric science and a current E-flat cornet player, said he looks forward to watching all the alumni marching down the ramp at the stadium.

“It’s definitely a much different atmosphere,” Banghoff said. “There’s a lot more focus on the tradition of the band and realizing how many people have come before us.”

The sea of red-shirted alumni taking the ramp to the field Saturday will be a testament to the tradition of the OSU Marching Band, Graf said.

“You look forward to seeing over 700 alumni band members at reunion,” Graf said. “It’s a great day to have everyone in the stadium one more time.”

3 comments

  1. “one of the original five women in the OSU Marching Band, Jan Duga, dotting the “I”, Graf said.”

    This quote from your article is incorrect. None of the first 5 women to march in OSUMB was named Jan. The original “first 5” marched in 1973. They were Rachel, Susan, Karen, Lisa, and Becky.
    Thanks for your time.

    Becky “Parker” Moughiman
    One of the first 5

    • Thanks, Becky for correcting that information. I became a member of the OSUMB in 1976, making the sousaphone section (K-L rows) the last to be integrated. As the first female to have dotted the “i” in the history of Script Ohio in 1979, it was indeed an honor to be invited back to dot again during this game celebrating the 40-year anniversary of women in the band.

    • Thanks, Becky for correcting that information. I became a member of the OSUMB in 1976, making the sousaphone section (K-L rows) the last to be integrated. As the first female to have dotted the “i” in the history of Script Ohio in 1979, it was indeed an honor to be invited back to dot again during this game celebrating the 40-year anniversary of women in the band.

      Jan Z Duga
      OSUMB
      L-Row, 1976-79

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