When Notre Dame and Alabama take the field at Monday night’s BCS championship game, Morgan Cox and Cody Switzer will be suited up and ready to play.
Not football. Morgan will be in his blue and maize Whitmer High School band uniform with a set of quad drums strapped on, while Cody will be playing the baritone horn in his black and orange North Baltimore High School band uniform.
Both boys were selected to play in the All Star Invitational Marching Band with students from across the country. The 100-member band is scheduled to perform a Latin medley during pre-game festivities and Miami Sound Machine’s “Conga” as part of the half-time show at the national championship game in Miami.
“It’s going to be fun to march out there and get that experience,” Morgan, 16, said in an interview at his West Toledo home before he left for Florida on Thursday.
He said he was looking forward to “being a part of the whole thing because marching band is my favorite band to play in.”
The Whitmer junior plays snare drum in his school’s marching band but was asked to play the quads at the championship bowl. He’s pretty flexible. He plays percussion in Whitmer’s symphonic band, a traditional drum set in the school’s jazz band, and drums, guitar, or bass for the praise team at his church, Plymouth Congregational Christian Church on Bennett Road.
“He’s a good performer, a good student leader,” said Justin Rhoades, a music teacher and band director at Whitmer who recommended Morgan for the All Star band. “He’s responsible, polite, courteous, and diligent.”
Morgan, who only had to take his drum sticks, flew to Florida with his father, Alan Cox, while Cody drove down with his mother, Doreen. Shipping his instrument cost almost as much as a plane ticket so they decided to make the drive and visit family and friends along the way, his father, Ron Switzer said.
“Cody is what I call a band geek,” Mr. Switzer said with a laugh. “He’s done real well for himself.”
Cody, 17, plays the baritone -- an instrument he described as “a bigger trumpet.” He joined the school band in fifth grade and has been sold on it ever since. Like Morgan, Cody said he plans to major in music education, play in the band in college, and become a high school band director.
“I just like being in band. I like making music,” he said.
Both boys said they were excited to rehearse and perform under the direction of several well-known band directors, including Kenneth Dye, director of bands at the University of Notre Dame.
Members of the All Star Invitational Marching Band had to be recommended by their band director and submit audition tapes, and they had to pay their own way. With airfare, the cost was close to $1,500 for Morgan, his mother said, but she sees it as an investment in his education.
Mrs. Cox said she does not expect to see her son performing on television Monday night since the pre-game and half-time shows typically aren't broadcast. She said that while she couldn’t go on the Florida trip, she will be there this summer when Morgan performs in Europe as part of the Ohio Ambassadors of Music program.
“We decided that all three of us would go to Europe,” she said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at email@example.com or 419-724-6129.