CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Marching Illini are in San Francisco with Fighting Illini Football for the Redbox bowl, but that did not stop them from making sure Illini basketball back home was covered with music to keep the team and fans pumped. They called in some help from an area high school.
It is not a complete Illini Basketball game if you do not have a little pep. That is why the Monticello Marching Sages stepped in to cover for the Marching Illini while they are away.
“This is in front of so many people. This is more people than I’ve ever played in front of,” says Marching Sages member Avry Menacher.
60 members out of the 130 in the high school band made the trip to fill some big shoes. They practiced hard, learning all the Illini songs for the game. And band members say that came with a little bit of pressure.
“There is some like, nervous energy for sure, but it’s pep band. So, you got to have fun in pep band,” says member Noah Beem.
And all the fun turned out to be a day they will always remember because for some, it was like a dream come true.
I’ve been coming here for games since I was a kid. And…watching the band…perform and stuff…I always thought it was so cool. And, now i’m doing it,” says Beem.
The director said the Marching Sages were the best band for the job. This year has been a big one for them.
“Our symphonic band was named the honor band at university of Illinois Superstate, and we won the governor’s trophy for classes 1A through 3A,” says director Alison Allender
Playing at the state farm center only added to their long list of success, and left them feeling pretty great.
“I was really excited. I was like, this is amazing,” says Menacher.