Friday night lights: COVID edition

The+marching+band+prepares+for+their+Homecoming+halftime+performance+on+Wednesday%2C+April+21.

Photo by Hannah Etienne

The marching band prepares for their Homecoming halftime performance on Wednesday, April 21.

Hannah Etienne, Staff Writer

The LZ Bears kicked off a unique spring football season in March, and played the long-awaited homecoming game on April 23. Band members, cheerleaders, and parents and students who got the limited tickets all attended the home games to support the team.

“It [wasn’t] as exciting, it [wasn’t] the same feeling,” Jaiden Johnson, junior, said about her experience watching the game from the stands as a marching band member. “But it was still nice to actually get to be there and still do pep band, even if not as many people are listening.”

The first home game was played against Libertyville on a few-degrees-above-freezing March 26. The team played a total of six games, all run differently than the usual fall games to abide by COVID guidelines; no concessions, limited tickets, and masks required. 

These were the last high school football games for the class of 2021, so seniors like drum major Spencer Ejupi say they are trying to make the most of the spring football season. Ejupi became drum major this year but was not able to lead the band until the March 26 football game.

“I feel like it’s important to just make the best of a bad situation, and since seniors were kind of dealt the low blow with our season being cancelled, not only with band but a lot of other sports and activities as well, I think it [was] really a good privilege to be able to go out on the field for our last few games,” Ejupi said, “just to kind of fulfill that thing we lost this year.”

As for the game itself, there were some noticeable differences. The bleachers were much sparser, with virtually no student section during the first home games. At the homecoming game, a limited student section was allowed. The band played from the opposing team bleachers instead of at the end of the home bleachers like they usually would. However, there were also parts of the football game that remained the same.

“You could tell that the football players were actually having a good time and actually wanted to be there, even though they didn’t have as many fans as they normally would,” Johnson said.

Ejupi also noticed similarities, saying that the game “didn’t feel too different other than the fact that we didn’t do [a halftime performance] and we weren’t in uniforms. It felt more like a basketball game than anything, because we were just wearing our pep band stuff.”

Homecoming was pushed back along with the football season. The band marched at the homecoming game and had their first real marching band rehearsal of the year earlier in the week to prepare.

“I [was] just excited to get the chance to be on the field,” Johnson, who plays the flute, said. “Even if it [didn’t] go as it normally would, or if it’s not as organized and complex as it used to be.”

Ejupi didn’t play his instrument on the field; as a drum major, he conducted the band. As the big game approached, he said he was excited for the band to perform, while also acknowledging that the marching band performance, like the football game itself, wasn’t be the same as previous years.