(NOTE: This is a piece submitted to me by a member of the colorguard, my own sister, to be exact. This is 100% her own writing, she just didn't want to make an account to post)
Imagine yourself standing on the field of Bryant Denny Stadium as hundreds of thousands of fans watching and cheering you on. A football goes flying past your face as football players, all at least a foot and a half taller than you, warm up in front of you for the riveting Alabama vs. Auburn game. All of a sudden you hear an explosion of trumpets and drums.You look over your shoulder to see the Million Dollar Band taking the field for their pregame performance. As the symphony of the instruments erupts over the roar of the crowd and the rush of the wind grazes your face, you look up and see yourself smiling from ear to ear on the scoreboard, and, somehow, your smile grows even bigger.
Suddenly the Crimson Tide bursts from the tunnel to flood the field, and the stadium explodes in cheers. The screams are so deafening it’s as though it was all silent, and everything seems to be in slow motion as you glance to your right to see Jaylen Waddle walking less than 5 feet away from you. The band once again booms into a powerful chorus of "Yeah Alabama" and the flag whips past your cheek as you look around to see your best friends doing what you love alongside you. Second year member, Katelyn Martin says, "Pregame is my favorite part. Everyone in the crowd joins in. This is the part that viewers remember the most, from the people who have been going to games since Bear Bryant was coach to their first game being that day. It makes me so happy to see how much people love the band and the Tide!"
This is a weekly high for a member of the Million Dollar Band Colorguard, a typical Football Saturday in Tuscaloosa, and a feeling that never gets old. This is what they do; this is what they love.
Not many people know a lot about colorguard. "Oh, y’all are those girls with the red lipstick and the flags!" is about the extent to which most people recognize them. Yet, the Million Dollar Band Colorguard is a very prestigious organization, and spots on the team are highly desired . Not only does it teach skill and performance, the MDBCG emphasizes the importance of developing individuals to be successful in the future by instilling values of hard work, dependability, perseverance, and self respect. As they spend every afternoon on a hot astroturf practice field, they are forced to challenge themselves both physically and mentally. Respect, class, grit-- three words that encompass the core curriculum of this team. They are taught the importance of being self-aware of every decision they make because their reputations reflect that of the University of Alabama, The Million Dollar Band, and The Million Dollar Band Colorguard, as well as their own families.
With director Steve Simpson and instructors Brandy Keeton and Kelsey Wicks holding the reigns, they not only train to develop star performers, but they equip the girls with experience and skills to become successful individuals in all of their future endeavors.
Starting their season two weeks before classes start, the Million Dollar Band is hard at work on their practice field fine tuning every detail of their halftime show and pregame show. From learning drill, where to go and when to stop, to learning music or routines, band camp days seem to be some of the longest in history. It’s not a task for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!
The MDBCG spends every morning working out as a team with their personal trainer, building strength and stamina. They then pick up their equipment, whether that be flags, rifles, or sabers, and begin the learning process. Once a whole show is learned, the cleaning process begins. Breaking down every single count of every song and detailing which direction a foot should be pointed and what angle the flag should be at, emphasizing a constant push for inspiring showmanship for each individual with every single rep. "You will perform like you practice, so go ahead and go big or go home before you get in front of people," is quip they often hear from coaches and trainers.
The Million Dollar Band Colorguard practices together at Butler Field everyday for two hours with the whole band, some late night sectionals to focus on cleaning routines/ working through messy counts, and Saturday mornings always start bright and early with a gameday practice. Sweaty and exhilarated, the girls finish practice and grab their makeup bags and sequins to prepare for the rest of the day. Thirty-six sets of fake eyelashes, seventeen now-empty bottles of hairspray, and countless laughs and memories later, they all emerge as a Crimson Tide Wonder Woman, as beautiful and sweet as ever. Heads turn as the infamous sparkly headbands and sequins walk toward the Quad to participate in the Elephant Stomp on the steps of Gorgas Library. Children gaze up at the sparkles in awe, and fans (from both teams) stop and ask for pictures and a big "Roll Tide".
When asked what her favorite part of UA Game Days is, Liana Taylor, a second year member of the team, said it was the fan interaction. "They look up to us, and I absolutely love the excitement of the parents and children as they stand beside a member of the Million Dollar Band Colorguard to take what seems to us as just another picture! We are the closest some of these people will ever get to the football team or to the whole University of Alabama experience, and I love being able to watch a kid’s smile light up when I let them hold my pom poms for a moment."
Claiming these girls take a lot of pictures is an understatement. As parents hand over their babies and fans from other teams wait in lines for a picture with them, the girls can hardly walk ten steps without being asked for another one.
There is so much more to this group of girls than most people realize. They are a team of dedicated and ambitious individuals with a passion for entertaining. They love what they do, and watching their joy during a performance is contagious. Hours of practice for a six minute halftime show, a ten minute pregame show, and hours of cheering and support of the football team in the stands all season long is what they do and what they love.