GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The North Carolina A&T football team plays its first home game of the season Saturday afternoon. The home opener also means the debut of the 2018 edition of the Blue and Gold Marching Machine.
The 200-plus member band has been preparing since before the semester began, getting all the music, drills and dance routines prepared.
“We get to know people on various levels. Sometimes at the lowest, sometimes at the highest. That`s what makes us a family,” says senior drum major James Washburn III.
They start at 6 a.m. They learn their music, they have indoor sessions about transitioning into college band life and they play and march well into the night.
Once the season begins -- between classes, study time, band practice until close to 10 p.m. -- Washburn says sleep is a luxury.
Just like the football team, which is riding a 14-game winning streak, there are high expectations for the band this season. They finished last year ranked the number one marching band among historically black colleges and universities, according to HBCUSports.com, and they`re picking up where they left off.
When it comes to gameday, every single person on the field knows they all have one job: to entertain before, during, and after the game. And it`s a job they all take very seriously.
They never perform the same show twice inside Aggie Stadium.
“I think we help set the mood. We help motivate the team. We help the crowd stay engaged,” says Director of Bands Kenneth Ruff.
They practice in the heat, the rain and sometimes the snow, whatever it takes to be the best on and off the field.
“What I want the students to realize is this is part of life. And performing is a part of life. So, every time you perform, whether it be in the classroom, whether it be on the field, whether it be at your job, you want to make sure you`re on top of your game”