BC football will go to bowl without the band

By Michaela Stanelun
Globe Correspondent / December 9, 2009

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When Boston College’s football team takes the field against the University of Southern California Trojans in the Emerald Bowl this month, the BC squad will do battle without its loudest, most-dedicated supporters: the college’s marching band.

Members of the 180-strong “Screaming Eagles,’’ who have cheered on BC during each of the school’s past 10 post-season appearances, will not make the trip to the San Francisco bowl on Dec. 26, band director David Healey said in an e-mail to members Monday night. He cited financial constraints as well as the timing of the game over the Christmas holiday as reasons for the Athletic Department’s decision.

The decision stunned band members. Like football players, they see a bowl appearance as a reward for their hard work and sacrifice throughout the season. Not sending the band, said junior trombonist Stephen Bohlman, suggests that BC “doesn’t care about the game experience.’’

College spokesman Jack Dunn said yesterday said that none of the band’s bowl appearances in recent years had occurred so close to Christmas.

“Given the timing of the bowl, over the Christmas weekend, the decision was made so as not to impose on band members to miss Christmas with their families,’’ Dunn said.

But Bohlman said he was willing to go to the Em erald Bowl even though it fell near the holiday. During his freshman year, he traveled to Orlando, Fla., when BC beat Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28, 2007.

“The [Emerald] bowl is the day after Christmas, so I can understand not getting the entire band to go for logistical reasons, because some students had already made plans for Christmas,’’ Bohlman said. “But to not send any sort of ensemble is embarrassing to the university, especially when people are willing to go.’’

Although BC did not send its band on the road this season, it has dispatched 30- to 40-member pep ensembles to away games in the past.

For the 2007 bowl, Bohlman said, the entire band traveled to Orlando.

Neither Healey, the band director, nor officials with the Athletics Department returned calls seeking comment yesterday.

Pat Kearnan, a junior trumpet player, said it was unfortunate no band contingent would be present at the bowl game.

“I wasn’t planning on going, but I was hoping they would send a small group,’’ Kearnan said. “Last year for the Music City Bowl, they sent 30 or so.’’

Kearnan said that normally the band goes to only one away game per year. “It’s a bummer for the seniors, especially if they didn’t go last year,’’ he said.

The Eagles band was founded in 1919, according to BC’s website.

In addition to playing at numerous US bowl games through the years, it said, the BC band performed at the Japan Bowl in Yokohama in 1985, the Emerald Isle Classic in Dublin in 1988, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1995.

A USC spokesman said the school’s marching band would travel the short distance to San Francisco for the Dec. 26 game.

Globe correspondents Jack Nicas and Stewart Bishop contributed to this report.