Chippewa marching band practices own homecoming traditions

The Marching Chips join in movement September 7th, 2013 against New Hampshire at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (Gregory Cornwell/Staff Photographer)

The Marching Chips join in movement September 7th, 2013 against New Hampshire at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (Gregory Cornwell/Staff Photographer)

“Do you know Brenda?”

It’s a common phrase chalked around campus in random places: Next to the library, outside the music building and on the pillars between Brooks and Dow halls.

Many students are confused by the phrase written across campus during homecoming week, but it makes perfect sense to the tenor saxophones in the Chippewa Marching Band.

“The gods,” as they’re know in the band, have upheld the tradition for years of sprawling the words across campus each homecoming week. The real reason behind the four-word phrase is kept secret and is only told to “gods.”

Some say DYKB is a memorial to a former god who died. Others speculate it’s a hoax to confuse the campus. Even if you try to coax the answer out of a god, they will not budge.

The marching band is full of traditions, not just for homecoming, but throughout the entire year. Homecoming is especially significant, though, because it brings former band members together with current ones to share the field and the memories.

“Being a part of homecoming makes me proud to be a Chippewa,” said Royal Oak senior and member of the color guard Sara Enochs. “Even though I have to wake up when everyone goes to sleep, I get such a rush of energy by being part of an amazing group of people in the Chippewa Marching Band and holding the Chippewa spirit close to my heart.”

Traditions vary by section in the band. Some have interlaced traditions like the lovingly named “Bone the Guard,” where the color guard and trombone section play each other in a Twister tournament for bragging rights.

The color guard has its own traditions, as well.

Breaking into the stadium at 3 a.m. on homecoming morning to practice on the sometimes frost-covered turf of Kelly/Shorts Stadium’s football field in the freezing cold has been a staple of the marching band’s homecoming traditions.

The trombone section practices “Bone-coming.” They have scavenger hunts and are out all night before the game. The section runs on caffeine and school spirit for the parade, show and game.

Traditions have been important throughout the 92 years of the Chippewa Marching Band. While some traditions such as hazing, hissing at rookies and other such practices have gone away, they have been replaced by alternative traditions like meowing instead.

Former marching Chips come home to Saunders Field and Kelly/Shorts Stadium because of the traditions that have been around for decades.

“It’s really special on game day seeing alumni of all ages showing up for the morning practice,” said Clarkston senior and section leader of the clarinets Justin Orminski.

The section leader has marched with the band for four years and has seen people come and go for homecoming games.

“Some are people you marched with, some are much older and had a much different experience in the band,” he said. “But for one day, it makes marching band a timeless experience.”


  1. Chip band alumni says:

    Do you know brenda came from a girl from an opposing school, supposedly western that slept with many members of the cmu band, so they would say do you know brenda as in a joke since she got around a bit.

  2. Kevin Stobbe says:

    The meowing has ceased, as well.

  3. I am a member of the trombone section in the marching band and bone-coming is NOT a scavenger hunt… what we do, as some students may have noticed in the past, is play around campus and around mount pleasant for our friends and faculty. We also stop at neutral locations such as Herrig hall and the towers. We have also, in the past few years, played for president Ross at his house. Going out in the middle of the night is quite tiring, especially the next day, but we have a lot of fun.

  4. Wouldn’t it be nice if past members of our own ensemble would take the time to check facts before posting about old traditions that make the group look bad? Once a Marching Chip, always a Marching Chip….or apparently not.
    For future articles, please feel free to contact the band managers to fact check.

  5. Attention people of Central Michigan University, the annual chalking doesn’t take place during homecoming week and never has. Also, you should know that it’s actually the 91st season, not the 92nd season as you have published. Consider using sources rather than what you “vaguely” remember from your time in a section that is semi-disjoined from the rest of the band.

  6. First of all,”bone the guard” is not a homecoming tradition, along with most of the traditions stated in the article. Also, thank you for making the guard sound like criminals. For the record they do not break in to the stadium. It is already unlocked and open. It is just tradition to climb the fence to get in. Next time choose ACTUAL homecoming traditions to exploit.

  7. The Marching Chippewa says:

    Okay, I know that there was a comment previously posted by someone else on on here, but was deleted; it was a comment pertaining to the reliability of the article. I do not agree that it needed to be removed.

    First and foremost, the Gods DYKB? chalking does not take place during the week of homecoming, which makes your entire introduction false. I have been a student here for three years, and I know for a fact that the tradition takes place during Western week each year. Also, I feel as if you should have actually interviewed someone from the Gods section and actually retrieved a quote from them and not have gone of pure speculation. You stated here that they wouldn’t budge if asked who Brenda is, which is the truth, but you should have probed them anyway; they really are nice people, and a REAL journalist will ask and ask until they at least have something.

    Also, I am a member of the marching band, and in reading this, I am very offended because it puts the entire integrity of the band in jeopardy. By saying people from the band are going on “scavenger” hunts in the middle of the night, or about how people are “breaking in” to public venues in the middle of the night, places the marching band in the worst light possible. We are the Marching Chips; we have more pride than any other band in the land. We stick together as brothers and sisters, through thick and thin and through team losses and wins; we do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect.

  8. Homecoming is a very special time for the Marching Chips. memories of days gone by with Jack Saunders, former Director of the Marching Chips are precious to many alumni. Jack is gone now, but we miss him very much and he is the Chippewa spirit that drives many of us yet today.

    Happy Homecoming Jack !

  9. Disappointed says:

    I can’t believe that a color guard alumnae would be rude enough to write this article…I’d like to apologize to the other sections…The color guard may be a semi-disjoined section, but we all still love the other sections. We most certainly would not exploit the traditions of such great sections for the sake of a stupid article. Shame on you.

  10. Very Serious CM Life Reporter says:

    my dad works for CMU and he told me that brenda died in a car accident in the 70′s. does anybody know what the APA citation for that is?

  11. “This band is RICH with traditions, and this band is SICK with traditions!” Anyone know who said that? As an alumni marching chip, I think the author was just trying to highlight some of the unique things the band holds dear. I agree fact checking is important, and direct quotes would be helpful, but I don’t think she deserves such criticism. And Brenda, she needs to quit haunting the old Barnes and Powers hall!

  12. The gods don’t do the chalking. Although we know Brenda, we don’t chalk, that’s still a mystery.

  13. To “Brenda”, who decided that Katherine’s entire marching band experience can be discounted because she was in color guard. The only reason that color guard is “semi-disjoined” from the band is because of people like you that make it that way. The color guard works harder and longer hours than any other section of the band except the drumline, and while the band gives the drumline their utmost respect, the guard has never been respected. In fact, the guard often feels alienated from the band. You insist that the band stands up for each other and sticks together, think about how you’re making the color guard feel when you correct them or scold them. The color guard may have to rehearse separately from the band but that does not mean they aren’t marching Chips. They are an important part of the best damn band in the land and they are proud to be Chippewas.

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