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Monday, September 25, 2023

Freshman band member braves heat for first Gators performance

Editor's Note: This is the second story in a two-part series on the Gator Marching Band. The first story ran Aug. 27.

As she entered Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Scarlet Basler stared in awe at the crowd of about 90,000 guests. "I'd never been to a college football game, much less a Gators game," she said later.

The moment did not last long for her. She had a job to do.

She and the other members of the "Pride of the Sunshine" Fightin' Gator Marching Band were charged with entertaining the sweating guests.

The first game of the Gators football season would be Basler's first public college performance.

The freshman sousaphone player had only had a handful of rehearsals and a week of band camp to practice with her new instrument before the first game.

She had to reschedule her classes to make time for practice but said it was easy to balance the two because she didn't have much homework the first week.

After summer band camp and preseason rehearsals, Basler had learned most of the music and all of the marching for the show.

Basler reviewed her music and marching moves during the band's pre-game rehearsal. The repetition helped ease her anxiety about her first college halftime show.

But her worries quickly returned when her director told band members they would not be able to use their music during the performance. For Basler, this meant marching from memory.

She wondered whether she would be able to remember where to move during the show.

Basler had dealt with high temperatures before, but she had never been tested by the heat in front of such a large crowd.

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For halftime, the band played songs with heat-related themes and wore light, cooler uniforms. The band wore white baseball caps, blue polo shirts and khaki shorts.

Basler marched in time with the band, helping to form intricate designs and adding the sound of her sousaphone to her section's as the show began.

They played songs like "The Heat is On," "Soak Up the Sun," "Hot Hot Hot" and "Walking on Sunshine." It was difficult to tell Basler apart from the veterans around her.

After the band left the field, Basler said she was pleased with her performance.

Dealing with the heat, her heavy horn and classes will be worth it in the end, Basler said.

"It's fun, and it's a nice thing to be part of such a big group with so many good people in it," she said.

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