Call it a group of dedicated percussionists or call it a big, happy family, the members of USF’s drumline say both assessments are right. These multi-talented USF students hold together the Herd of Thunder.
“With every football team, you’re going to need a marching band,” said Pat Buschle, snare captain for USF’s Herd of Thunder Drumline.
“The (football) players have told me that the drums psyche them up when they’re on the field,” said Andy Schrader, a senior in civil engineering and bass captain. “When the football team is out there and, say, trying to hold an opposing team out of the goal, we’ll play some primitive caveman drumbeat that everyone can clap along with and understand, and get pumped up.”
This semester, the drum line is the largest it has been since its inception in 1999.
“We’re so new that most of our traditions, we’ve had to make.” Schrader said.
“I’ve always been a sucker for traditions,” said Jeff Mason, a sophomore majoring in pre-medical science who is also the captain of the tenor line.
Even the smallest details, such as the position of their hands on their hats, counts as a tradition for the drumline, and there is nothing that will stop them from continuing the ritual.
“Just keeping up traditions, upholding something that’s been there for a long time, that’s what I like,” said Mason.
Under the direction of Ron Lambert and assistant Tanya Bruce, the growing drumline continues to progress through its current transitional period.
“He’s really made it what it is,” Buschle said of Lambert’s dedication to USF’s drum line. “Now we’re at the point that people are graduating, and we’re kind of starting over. In a few years, we’ll be at the same level we were a few years ago.”
“The people will change, but the drumline itself shouldn’t change,” Mason said.
Members of USF’s close-knit drumline view it not only as the backbone of Herd of Thunder but also as a family.
“The drumline molds into a family out of necessity. We spend so much time together that it’s impossible not to bond,” said Schrader.
He said the drum line spends more time together than any of the other sections in Herd of Thunder.
The members spend hours practicing together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening, and they sometimes stay after to practice on their own time.
“Even 45 minutes after practice is officially over, parts of the drum- line will be on the field under the stadium lights looking over music,” Schrader said. “Sometimes we’ll have parties where we kick back, watch movies and drum for about three hours.”
Commitment like that is usually hard to find among busy college students, but is customary in USF’s drumline.
“We’ve got school and jobs, but it’s got to be that important to all of us,” said Buschle.
“Out of the whole band, the drum line has to have the most discipline,” said Jeff Mason.
The discipline and hard-working mindset of the drumline allows members of the line to grow as musicians and as friends.
“We all sweat and die in the heat together and that brings us closer together. It’s intense when you’ve got a 30-pound drum on your back and marching, trying to dodge garbage cans and street signs because you can’t see over the top of your big bass dru,” Schrader said. The heat and the hard work won’t stop this drum line from persisting.
“At the end of the day it’s worth it because you’re around people who have been with you through it all.”