When the Auburn University Tigers take on the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2, at least four young people from Warner Robins will be in attendance.
Lauren Rossman, a graduate of Warner Robins High School, as well as three Houston County High School graduates, Wilson Childers, Jim Shaw and Kendall Moore, will all be taking the field as members of the Auburn University Marching Band.
Rossman is a junior at Auburn and plays the piccolo, Childers plays trumpet and is a sophomore, Shaw is a sophomore as well and plays percussion and Moore is a freshman who plays tenor saxophone.
The band leaves Friday from Auburn to travel to New Orleans. Rehearsals the first two days will take place at a local high school. On New Year’s Day, the band will practice at the Superdome and the game.
Since Rossman is a junior, this is not her first bowl game. It is actually not even her first trip to play at the Sugar Bowl. As a member of the Warner Robins High School band, she traveled with the Demons to be part of a group of about a 1,000 high school band students who performed during the Sugar Bowl when Rossman was in ninth grade. At Auburn, she has traveled with the band to perform at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, and the Birmingham Bowl, in Birmingham, Alabama.
There will be free time for sight seeing for the members of the Auburn Marching Band in New Orleans as well as other responsibilities. In addition to playing at the game, the band will play at public pep rallies and be part of the Sugar Bowl parade on New Year’s Eve.
Rossman said she enjoys going to bowl games because of the interaction the two team’s bands have with each other.
“It is just neat to see their culture. Like Wisconsin. Their uniforms were a sweater vest all the time and ours are more dependent on the weather. The routines are different and the way the bands are run are different as well,” Rossman said.
Rossman, who was the drum major at Warner Robins High School her senior year, said that while playing in the band on the high school level is similar to the college in several ways, there is one major difference.
“The pace is just so much quicker. At Warner Robins, we practiced for a couple of months and learned one show. At Auburn, we learn a show in the matter of two days.”
The third generation of her family to attend Auburn University, following father David and grandparents Fred Rossman and Robin Whitman, Rossman said she was fortunate to take part of Warner Robins High School with her.
“I was really blessed with my band directors, Mr. Howell and Mr. Ryals. They were big on discipline and character and when I got to Auburn, Dr. Spurlin was the same — big on ambassadorship and integrity. So my transition was easy. It was the same — you don’t misbehave, because anywhere you go you represent the band. Auburn really demands a professional demeanor at the games and I can thank Mr. Howell and Mr. Ryals for putting that discipline in me,” Rossman said.
Childers said that one of the major differences he had noticed between playing in the band at Houston County High and Auburn University was the crowd.
“At HoCo, it was a small hometown crowd while at Auburn, there are 87,000 people in the stadium and hundreds of thousands watching on television, so that scope of the crowd that you have to entertain is larger. It is more intense,” said Childers.
The responsibility is bigger as well, according to Childers.
“No matter where you are, you are the face of the band. Your actions don’t just reflect on the band but the university as a whole,” said Childers.
Childers, who is a music major, said the music at Auburn is “fantastic.”
“At HoCo, we were a competition-style band so our music was very artful. The music we play at Auburn is meant to entertain so it is more fun to listen to. We do a lot of pop stuff and rock. Even when we do the classical orchestral music there is more energy,” said Childers.
Childers said that he was looking forward to the food in New Orleans, as well as the festivities that the band will be involved in, such as the pep rallies and parades.
“I am a performer, so that is what I thrive on — performing. And playing for Auburn is really rewarding. There is no other time that as a performer you will get to play for 87,000 people,” said Childers, who also participates in several of Auburn’s ensembles. He is principal of the top symphonic band, part of the dean’s brass quintet and a member of the Auburn Knights, a jazz band.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Wilson Childers on second reference.
Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)