It wasn’t just the Pittsburgh Panthers that took a pounding at Nippert Stadium the night of Sept. 6. A pregame tumble by Bearcat Band member Chris Ramhap also made national news, as the home football game opened the Big East season.
Ramhap, a 22-year-old, fifth-year mechanical-engineering-technology major, was not injured in the fall and says he was just happy that he was in front of the band during the Bearcat Band’s traditional pregame charge down the steps. He says he knew he had to get up as quickly as possible. “The rest of the band is not going to wait for you.”
The Bearcat Band’s charge down the steps is a tradition that has fired up crowds in Nippert Stadium since 1954. Ramhap, of West Chester, has marched with the band each of his five years at UC and has never taken a spill until last Thursday night. He says the challenge of charging the steps is landing on the artificial turf.
“When you hit the turf, it’s a whole new ballgame. If you get to the bottom of the steps and you don’t hit the turf just right, usually gravity wins,” he says.
After the fall, Ramhap says he noticed that one of the slides had fallen out of his trumpet, so he grabbed the slide as he rushed to get into formation. What he didn’t realize immediately was that his mouthpiece had also flown out of the trumpet and was lying at the steps where he took the spill. “I just thought, now what am I going to do?”
The show must go on, and on it went, as Ramhap marched on while pressing his keys and pretending to play. He says a ROTC cadet delivered his mouthpiece to him after the pregame show. The horn was not damaged.
At 250 members strong, the UC Bearcat Band is the university’s largest student organization. Members are also truly dedicated to the band and to their fans. Ramhap says practices include two rehearsals – both two hours – a week, plus an hour of sectionals (woodwinds, brass, percussion) and personal time that members commit to practice. Before classes started on Aug. 27, band camp started on Aug. 17 and ran up to Convocation on Aug. 24.
Plus, charging the steps isn’t the only challenge for these musicians. The Bearcat Marching Band – in full uniform – marches on through hot, humid nights, heavy downpours and freezing temperatures that occur later in autumn. “We’ll be there playing, no matter what the weather,” says Ramhap. “We just need to make sure our instruments are well-oiled and ready to go.
“It’s the biggest student organization on campus. You walk into the room and you instantly have 300 friends,” Ramhap says. “Plus, the perks of going to the sporting events are fun, too.”
Ramhap says any band member would agree that it is truly a rush to be on the field, all fed by the enthusiasm of the crowd. “Every time we play the student section, they go nuts!”
This fall’s pregame show features three compositions from composer and internationally acclaimed musician Chuck Mangione: “Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor,” “Land of Make Believe” and “Children of Sanchez.” All play up the strengths of Ramhap’s instrument, the trumpet.
Ramhap also marched with his high school marching band at Lakota West High School. He says he chose UC to pursue his college education because it had the program that he wanted, because UC was local and because UC, the founder of cooperative education, held co-op opportunities for him as well. He’s currently working part-time at one of his co-op employers, Intelligrated. Headquartered in Mason, Ohio, the company is a leading North American-based, single-point provider of automated material handling solutions with operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
This Bearcat Band member and future UC graduate is planning to march at spring Commencement in April. The good news: As he takes the steps to be congratulated on stage at Commencement, he won’t need to worry about landing on any turf.
The Bearcat Bands have created several scholarship funds and endowments to provide financial assistance to members of the band in recognition of their time and commitment to the organization. These endowments also help to ensure the long-term financial stability of the organization.