On the march; Two AHS graduates begin with different goals, but end up parading on the same path

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

By Sarah Lysne


Two Austin High School graduates are enjoying the opportunity to represent the University Of Minnesota as members of the University of Minnesota Marching Band in the Twin Cities.

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Senior Laura Siegfreid and sophomore Bethany Rowbal are both honored to be representing the band this year.

Siegfreid, a retail merchandising major, played the flute in high school and like the Gophers from an early age.

“I grew up going to Gopher sporting events, and I was always eager to see the band perform. I knew that someday I wanted to be out on that field playing in the future,” said Siegfreid.

Rowbal’s involvement in the band was not initially one of her college goals.

“When I entered college I was just planning to focus on my classes, but participating in the band, has ended up being one of my favorite things about college,” she said.

Siegfreid competed against 30 other students during her junior year at the U of M and was one of five selected to play in the 26-member flute and piccolo section that year.

Bethany Rowbal marching with the University of Minnesota Color Guard. Gopher Photo/gopherphoto.com

Bethany Rowbal marching with the University of Minnesota Color Guard. Gopher Photo/gopherphoto.com

Rowbal is a student in the College of Biological Sciences and plans to major in biology and minor in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology. She played clarinet in the AHS wind ensemble.

Before moving to Austin with her family, she attended high school in Georgia where she was in her high school band’s Color Guard, during her freshman-junior year. Rowbal was one of eight who were chosen to be in U of M band’s Color Guard.

Siegfreid and Rowbal noted the significant differences between being in the band at AHS and being a part of the U of M marching band.

“I think the most challenging part about being in marching band at the U is the time commitment,” Rowbal said. “We practice for an hour and 45 minutes Monday through Thursday during the season, with additional practices on Fridays and Saturdays of game weekends.”

That practice shows on the field.

“The band learns a different half time show for every football game which includes new music, new drills, and new formations on the field,” Siegfreid said. “We also practice for a pregame show. On game days, during the football season, we often spend eight hours practicing and performing.”

Siegfreid also noted that unlike high school, they are required to memorize all of their music for each half time show and they have to learn different marching styles such as the high-step, the glide step and a variety of combinations to go along with those marching styles.

Laura Siegfreid with Goldie the Gopher. Gopher Photo/gopherphoto.com

Laura Siegfreid with Goldie the Gopher. Gopher Photo/gopherphoto.com

“There are a lot of things that I love about being in the marching band,” Rowbal said. “It’s kind of amazing to see how many college students put so much time towards it and work so hard to put together a show that only lasts for 10 minutes. I think my favorite part is performing on game days in front of thousands of people.”

“Most of the people in the band are not music majors. It’s a great opportunity to pursue your own education and future, but still carry your love for music with you in college,” Siegfreid said.

Rowbal said that the marching band travels with the football team to bowl games. Last year they went to Detroit, Michigan, for the Quick Lane bowl.

The girls recalled a quote on the wall near their rehearsal space which says, “The band doesn’t become a part of your life; you become a part of the band’s life.”

“We are a part of something that has continually grown and represented the state for 125 years, and it’s an honor to be a part of something like that!” Siegfreid said.