Cougars jam out with Huskies and Ducks

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When Cougars, Huskies and Ducks play together, even the pouring Ireland rain can’t keep us down.

For spring break, I took a trip with a group of Cougar Marching Band members to Ireland where we got the chance to play in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin. Joining us were members of the University of Washington and University of Oregon marching band.

This was the first time many of the members had been out of the country. I may have made people jealous when I told them I lived in Ireland for five months. It looked like a chance to share my love for music and represent my school and the Pacific Northwest.

Despite our rough start with rerouted flights due to a Northeast blizzard, we arrived in Dublin, took a tour of Trinity College where we saw the “Book of Kells,” and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Our awe only kept the jet lag at bay until the bus ride to the hotel, when most of us promptly fell asleep.

Then it was rehearsal time. Time to meet kids going to UW, WSU’s sworn enemy school, and others from UO, a school my mom jeers at during football season.

I have been in the marching band for four years, four football seasons and four Apple Cups. The Oregon folks I knew and I didn’t have a problem with, but I’ve seen the ugly side of the dispute between Cougar and Husky fans.

Upon walking into the arena where we would rehearse, I scanned the room for a fellow piccolo or flute player. I had crimson and gray thread decorating my piccolo head, and the Oregon flute players wore their school sweatshirts. Then in comes the Husky flutes, with UW tassels hanging from their instruments.

We all got along great, any teasing about rivalry was playful. We taught each other secret handshakes, horn flashes and the moves to do during dance breaks in music. We told stories of fun things that happened on band trips.

We all had a common connection: music, and our love for our bands.

The collective group – the Pacific Northwest Intercollegiate Marching Band – played and marched at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, even as the rain poured and soaked us to the bone.

We learned three songs for the parade: the Husky Marching Band’s version of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, the Cougar Marching Band’s rendition of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Whiskey in the Jar,” an Irish song new to all of us. I swear I saw people singing along to every song.

We also had a gig at Kilkenny Castle, following a tour we took of the castle itself.

The locals seemed to have fun with our playlist of tunes, which included “Louie, Louie” and “Crazy in Love.” After the parade was a trip to Dunluce Castle and the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

This trip gave us an opportunity to explore the history and culture of a different country.

I even forged new friendships with Husky and Duck marching band members. Call me a traitor. Call it blasphemous, if you will, befriending a Husky. I’ve heard all the taunts and the “Huck the Fuskies,” and now I can’t tell when someone is serious and when they’re just trying to be funny.

It was great to see three schools come together in a way that puts rivalry aside. We joined our musical talents together and represented our universities, and this trip gave me an experience I will never forget.