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Ohio State salutes Woods after 38 years as band director

Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor

Soon after Florida quarterback John Brantley took a knee on EverBank field to seal the victory for the Gators victory over the Buckeyes, the final note was struck from the Ohio State University Marching Band under the direction of Dr. Jon Woods.

The lyrics of “Carmen Ohio” were written to symbolize the spirit of OSU. After OSU’s loss to Florida Monday, the cheerleaders and a few Buckeye football players gathered around Woods and the marching band and celebrated that spirit with the playing of “Carmen Ohio.”

The moment brought a tear to Woods’ eye.

“Jon Woods has played the soundtrack to the Buckeye Nation for over a quarter century,” said Jon Waters, assistant director of the marching band. “For the football team, Dr. Woods has been there for some great moments and provided that extra boost and extra motivation for fans and coaches and players over the years.”

Twenty-eight years ago, Woods took over as the director of the marching band and quickly made the band his family. Woods, 72, has been in the OSU marching band program for 38 years.

“The band, I think is his family,” Waters said. “He’s a father figure and a mentor and he promoted that family feeling all the while he was here.”

Because of the sheer amount of time Woods has been in the marching band program, he has been able to touch several generations of Buckeyes.

“There are so many generations of band students who have come through who had him as a director,” Waters said. “We have students in the band whose parents played under Jon Woods. That family feeling is just an awesome thing.”

As the director of the marching band, Woods plays an integral part on game days in the ‘Shoe, and across the country.

“He’s had a lot of great moments in Buckeye football,” Waters said. “Not only the football team. I think the band transcends university wide, state wide and nationally. I think Jon Woods has really brought Ohio State to a new level.”

During halftime of the Gator Bowl, the band performed a double Script Ohio in front of 61,312 in attendance at EverBank field. While senior “i”-dotters Jon Lampley and Peter Droll dotted the formation at the bowl game, this is a tradition that Woods has had the honor of participating in.

During the Penn State game, Woods’ last home game as band director, Lampley, a fourth-year in jazz studies, walked with Woods to the top of the formation as Woods dotted the “i.”

“That was something I’ll never forget. People have called (Script Ohio) the greatest tradition in all of college sports and he’s meant so much to that tradition,” Lampley said. “He absolutely deserved that. It was unbelievable just to be in the band at that moment.”

Woods said it was an unbelievable moment in his career.

“(Dotting the “i”) was very meaningful, and it was a moment in life I will never forget,” Woods said.

Only a handful of non-band members have had the opportunity to dot the “i” during Script Ohio. These include Bob Hope, Woody Hayes, Jack Nicklaus, John Glenn, President E. Gordon Gee and more recently, Leslie Wexner.

While Woods was able to participate in the dotting the “i” tradition, he said the band was known for so much more than that.

“One might ask what is the greatest tradition of the band. Is it the Script Ohio? Is it the ramp entrance? Is it ‘Hang on Sloopy?'” Woods asked. “The most important tradition we have is a history of the tradition of excellence.”

Lampley shared that sentiment.

“He really is concerned, not just with the success of the band, but with the success of each individual student that are in his bands,” Lampley said. “The best tradition in the band was the tradition of excellence. (Woods) worked so hard so we can achieve that excellence.”

Waters is set to take over as interim band director for the 2012-2013 season, and said he is excited about the opportunity.

“We are all just stewards in this position,” Waters said. “Whether we are in it for just one year or like Jon Woods was for 28 years. We are all caretakers of this wonderful tradition.”

Woods said that through the years, his love for the music and his love for the band members stayed the same.

“It’s a great thrill to stand in front of that band every week, during the football season, and conduct them and to hear them play,” Woods said.

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