The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Apple Cup with the Best in the West

Cougar Marching Band earns fist bumps from Cougs, Huskies alike
Two marching band members do a pregame high five before taking the field to perform against Northern Colorado, Sept. 16.

I could hear the boos as I ran onto the field. I couldn’t help but smile. 

*Tap-tap-tap-tap* rang our center snare as I turned toward the endzone.

*Boom-Boom* went the base drum and on beat three approximately 200 musicians shouted  COUGS!* as we snapped our instruments into playing position. We belted out the WSU fanfare in enemy territory, it was the proudest I felt playing my instrument all season.

We played Trumpet Cheer and marched down the field. I shouted “Washington, Washington, Wash-ing-ton State!” a little louder than I usually did.

Finally, we played the WSU fight song.

Our first-year band director, Dr. Jon Sweet wrote a new pre-game show, incorporating several iconic WSU symbols. I was filled with pride and joy as we spelled out “Cougars” on the field in the classic text and of course formed the best logo in college athletics, the Coug head, on Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium.

As we walked off the field, I took a moment to look at the sea of purple and crimson. The Apple Cup is a truly special game. I am glad it will continue as a non-conference game, but this final Apple Cup as Pac-12 rivals felt like a true conclusion.

UW tucks the visiting band into the corner of the East endzone in section 101. It makes sense but does kind of hide the band in the huge 70,000-seat stadium.

To get to our section, we had to walk through one of the public gates and briefly through the concourse. This process feels like an I-5 commute through the heart of Seattle as fans craving refreshment waded past us. As we waited to get to our seats, we started a series of chants. My favorite being. “C C-O-U WHOOP WHOOP. C-O-U-G-S GO COUGS!” on repeat.

In an example of how petty Husky fandom starts young, a gang of spoiled kids followed us to tell us our team sucked. “74 wins,” they said attempting to demonstrate their ability to use Google in 2023. Husky fans, please supervise your kids and make sure they’re smart enough not to bother the marching band. Like, how lame is that?

I had a beautiful view of Lake Washington and the Cascades foothills in the distance from my seat. I will concede that Husky Stadium’s lake-front location is kind of nice. A great setting for college football, sure, but far from the best stadium atmosphere. I traveled to Autzen Stadium earlier this year, and I hate to say this, but Oregon takes the cake in the college football atmosphere department. I’m still going to enjoy Martin Stadium the most of course.

The game began sluggishly, with WSU’s offense unable to get much of anything going and the Cougar defense doing what they could despite the continual plus field position that the Husky offense received from their defense’s efforts.

Heisman contender Michael Penix Jr. led the Huskies down the field for UW’s first touchdown and I felt as if it may be a long night. 

Then Cam Ward showed off his NFL-caliber arm. After a couple of huge chunk plays, Ward found Josh Kelly in the endzone and I screamed. I flung my trumpet up to play Trumpet Cheer, our post-touchdown song and hugged and high-fived my friends around me. Following the extra point, we played the fight song, a little louder than we normally did and I’m pretty sure we rushed it with how excited we were much to the displeasure of our poor drum majors.

With seven minutes remaining in the first half, we dawned our shakos (snazzy marching band hats) and made our way down to the field.

As we stood along the sideline, I got the chance to catch up with a friend from high school who is a member of the Husky Marching Band. During our conversation, Ward led the Cougs down the field and found Kyle Williams in the corner of the endzone for perhaps the catch of the year as WSU tied the game going into the half.

I jumped up and down with my fellow Cougs right in front of the Husky band. It felt good to be a Coug.

Our halftime show was “Cougs in Space” one of my favorite shows of my college career. We begin with [insert music] from 2001, followed by music from Star Trek (2009) and fainly the Elton John / William Shanter hit, “Rocker Man.” At the end of our rendition of Star Trek, the band creates a hand that opens into the Vulan Slate. I stand at t the bottom of the hand along the front sideline near the 50 yard-line where I had the pleasure of seeing several members of the Husky Marching Band react. “That’s cool” along with plenty of smiles were the live notes we received from our purple-loving peers.

The drill for Rocket Man is pretty impressive as well. We form a man with a jetpack who takes off, flies across the field and lands. It is such a cool animation and one that earned us a slew of fistbumps and cheers from Cougs and Huskies alike in our walk back to our seats.

I nailed every note, and hit each dot on the field. As I walked off the field after my final college halftime show performance, I felt a deep sense of pride that I had left it all out there.

I have been a member of the WSU Cougar Marching Band for my entire college career. It took me from Zoom calls in my room at home my freshman year (yay Zoom Band)  to playing at Martin Stadium in rain, snow or shine, to the LA Bowl in SoFi Stadium to North Carolina for the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament in 2022 to Las Vegas for the 2023 women’s basketball Pac-12 Championship and of course two, starkly different trips to Husky Stadium in Seattle for the Apple Cup.

You can throw out records when it comes to rivalry games because anything can happen. The emotions, stakes and atmosphere of the Apple Cup are palpable.

Next year’s Apple Cup at Lumen Field will be different. A September non-conference game just does not fit the Apple Cup which I as a Washingtonian who grew up in a family with few ties to WSU or UW, associated with Thanksgiving weekend. The disdain the two fanbases have for each other will be intensified by this predicament in which UW left the Pac-12, providing the final nail in the coffin of its demise and left WSU to fend for itself in the unforgiving waves of conference realignment.

The Apple Cup will not be the same next year, but the marching bands will do their best to maintain their traditions and create the atmosphere that a 115-year rivalry deserves.

I am very fortunate to have seen three of the most entertaining Apple Cups in the history of the rivalry. The 40-13 blowout was simply fantastic and Penix vs. Ward in back-to-back years provided instant classics.

I was one of the last CMB members to leave Husky Stadium and it was hard. I hugged my fellow seniors with tears in their eyes. I surprised myself by not crying in the moment, but the post-band low was real. The Husky band continued to perform in their west endzone seats as I walked out of the stadium. 

I’m incredibly thankful to be a Coug. WSU football fell short and that stings. As much as I will remember the dropped interceptions, questionable roughing the passer call on the final drive and incredible touchdown catches, I will leave WSU knowing that I did my job.

“Band, what’s your motto? Best in the West! Go Cougs!!!”

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.