'Script Ohio' is homecoming tradition
When Director Bill Thissen and Assistant Director Robb Hildreth first started putting Marysville High School marching band members through the paces of "Script Ohio" in 1999, they had an ulterior motive.
They wanted to recruit sousaphone players.
"One of the reasons we started this is, it's actually a recruiting tool for sousaphone players that want to dot the 'I' " Hildreth said.
"It's (the sousaphone) the heaviest instrument," Thissen said. "It's hard to get kids to want to do that. This has helped."
The first i-dotter at MHS was Mike Farley, who went on to play at Ohio State University and dotted the "I" there three times.
Hildreth began working at Marysville in the fall of 1998. Thissen came to MHS the fall of 1993 and is celebrating his 20th year with the district.
"We actually started 'Script MHS' in 1994 and it evolved into 'Script Ohio,' " Thissen said.
Hildreth said the show is a thrill for the kids in the band, even though "Script Ohio" is a staple for the OSU Marching Band.
"Nobody's going to do it as well as Ohio State but this is, in our way, a tribute to them," he said. "They were glad to have us do it. They were fine with that. We're not the only band in Ohio that does it."
Thissen said he thinks OSU is pleased with the Marysville band's effort.
"I think they're glad we do a pretty good job with it," Thissen said.
Every year, Hildreth spends several hours charting how MHS band students will do "Script Ohio." The band learns it in a week.
"The number of steps in each curve, in every part, can change every year, depending on the band size," he said.
The number of students in the band has fluctuated from 190 to 220; this year's band has 210 members.
Hildreth said the Marysville band performed "Script Ohio" for years without knowing how OSU would feel about it.
"We didn't know for sure if that was OK (with OSU) but we talked to their director and he said yes, that's fine, you have permission," he said.
Typically, the band performs the show only for the homecoming game -- scheduled for Oct. 4 this year -- but might do it once more at an away game.
"That has us doing it twice and gives the chance for two different I-dotters and two different kids to lead it, too," Hildreth said.
Determining who gets to dot the "I" is usually done by seniority. One year, five seniors had to participate in a "march off" to decide who would do the honors.
"To do 'Script Ohio' is a real rush for the kids. Everybody knows it," Hildreth said. "It gets a great crowd response, whether it's home or away.
"The hard part for the kids, especially for the freshmen, is just getting through the crossovers. We can do it without too many collisions."
Hildreth said the only way to pull off "Script Ohio" is attention to detail but most importantly, it all comes back to music.
"We definitely want it look good but no matter what, it's the music that has to stick together. We have to keep it together musically," he said.