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The Marching Chips perform for the first time led by two females


As the power went out at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, the members of the Central Michigan University Marching Band quickly pulled out their phones and turned on their flash lights.

While waiting for the power to comeback on during the second quarter, the Marching Chips started halftime early and hit the field to perform.

Standing 6 feet apart side to side and 12 feet apart front to back on the field, each musician wore a mask and kept bell covers on wind and brass instruments to prevent airborne spread,  Director of the CMU Marching Band James Batcheller said.

 With COVID-19 precautions and a brief power outage, the Marching Chips were found social distancing through the stands of the stadium while not on the field during the first home game on Nov. 4.

“There’s still a lot of passion,” said drum major and Lake Isabella senior Gabrielle Bass. “I say, maybe even more going through these hard times, yet we’re still a unit, we’re a family, we’re working together.”

After over two months of practicing, the Marching Chips started their season being led by two female drum majors for the first time in their history.

“Making history with Gabby is just incredible,” said assistant drum major and Cadillac junior Jordan Healey. “Being the first two female drum majors ever in Chippewa Marching Band history is such a surreal feeling.”

Bass and Healey are the fourth and fifth women to lead the band as drum majors.

“I'm extremely appreciative of our athletics department's leadership in developing a plan for the MAC that allows us to have a season at all,” Batcheller said. “And, of course, last night's showing by the Chips is demonstration enough that we can be safe and competitive.”

The band has been making the most of their shortened season by finding safe alternatives to their traditions. 

In past years, the band's post-game meeting would take place by ‘the rock’ or ‘the tree,’ which are behind the stadium. Members would do chants, cheers and make speeches to celebrate the game and their performance.

Now these meetings happen in small groups or in areas large enough to socially distance.

“A lot of the traditions we normally do, we cannot do this year,” Healey said. “It’s incredible how we just push through all of it. Every single wall thats been put up against us, we’ve just jumped right over it.” 

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