Virginia Todd can now check one more thing off her bucket list.
When Mrs. Todd attended Whitmer High School in the 1970s, she loved being a musician in the marching band, performing in formation during half-time of the school football games, and the camaraderie that went with it.
"It is a wonderful group. They seem to have more fun than anyone else at the football games," said Mrs. Todd, who played the clarinet three years for the Whitmer band and was a majorette as a senior.
As a college student she couldn't fit band into her busy schedule. She juggled classes and held down part-time jobs to pay her way through the University of Toledo to earn a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice.
She went on to join the Oregon police department and picked up two more degrees from the University of Toledo — a masters of public administration in 1991, followed by a law degree five years later. She got married and raised a family.
But the passion for the marching band never left her.
The now retired police officer is realizing her personal dream.
Mrs. Todd, 59, took the field with the 230-member UT Rocket marching band for Thursday's game at the Glass Bowl against Elon Phoenix. Fresh from a nine-day band training camp, she played clarinet and participated in the pre-game festivities and the halftime performance.
"This has been my dream for years and a big bucket list item. It was something I always wanted to do," she said. "I was determined to do it one day."
To prepare for her attempt at making the band, Mrs. Todd said she began a strenuous workout routine in May of running, walking, and strength training with lifting equipment to build up her stamina. She said she knew the 13-hour-a-day band camp and rehearsals would require she get in shape.
She said she typically went to the gym during the middle of the day when it was the hottest to aclimate herself to the conditions she would encounter during practices.
Admittedly a bit rusty, she also took classes to refresh musical instrument-playing skills.
"Basically I had to relearn how to replay the clarinet," she said.
Mrs. Todd had to audition and try out just like the other 230 members of the UT Rocket marching band. She submitted a self-made video of herself playing her instrument and posted it on youtube.com for band director Andrew Rhodes to view.
In enrolling in the university's band camp, she encountered another challenge — joining fresh-faced students nearly 40 years younger than she to take on long days of practicing, marching, and rehearsing music.
"They were very young. It felt a little like being back in high school again," she said.
She said it was a little awkward at first to mix with the college students and some thought she was the band director's assistant. Gradually she and her bandmates warmed up to the point she is included in text messaging groups with them.
"We have become a little family," she said. "I have made some good friends. They remind me of my kids. But they are good people."
Mrs. Todd is enrolled at UT as a non-degree student in the elective music course for the marching band. The class requires students to commit to four-hour afternoon practices and rehearsals for four days a week.
Virginia Todd, bottom center, cheers with other members of the the University of Toledo marching band during Thursday's season opening football match up against Elon University at the Glass Bowl.
Mr. Rhodes, who has been band director for eight years, said Mrs. Todd was treated equal to her younger counterparts during the marching band training camp. He said she met the expectations asked of all participants.
"She kept her end of the bargain. No one asked for special treatment or anything that," he said. "One of the things we preach is the the Rocket marching band is it a team. Just like being on the basketball or football team. We also talk about the acceptance of one another."
Mrs. Todd retired from the Oregon police department as a lieutenant in 2001. She now works part-time as an investigator for the Lucas County coroner's office.
The marching band will perform at the remaining four UT home games in the Glass Bowl and will travel to Bowling Green State University for the annual rivalry with the Falcons on Nov. 15. They also will march in the Homecoming parade before the Oct. 7 game against Eastern Michigan University.
The marching Rockets also will travel with the football team of they win a bid to a post-season bowl game. The band also is scheduled to perform in November at the Valentine Theater in downtown Toledo for an annual indoor performance.
Mrs. Todd, and her husband, Jim, who is also a retired Oregon police officer, have three sons, Jimmy, 27, Darren 22, who is a UT engineering student, and Sean, 21.
Mr. Todd, Jimmy Todd, and his daughter, Makayla, 6, attended Thursday's game to see Mrs. Todd's inaugural performance in the band.
Mr. Todd said that once his wife sets her minds on something, she always completes the tasks.
"She focuses on it and does whatever she needs to do to get it done. I was surprose when she said was going to do this. But once she said it I assume it was getting done."
Getting into the marching band was the second item on Mrs. Todd's bucket list. Her first scratched-off item was dealing cards at the blackjack table. To do that, she worked for about a year at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo.
What's next on her bucket list?
"I know its kind of hokey. But I always wanted to sing in a rock band. That will be next one," she said. "I will have to figure out how I can get that done."
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