During a Labor Day cookout, Dr. Matthew Brunner received a call from a producer looking to have the Diamond Marching Band on Good Morning America.
The nationally broadcasted morning talk show was going to be having an upcoming college-themed week and Temple administration were quick to answer the call for participants.
The word was quickly passed to Brunner, the director of athletic bands, who proceeded to contact members of the marching band. Since GMA’s studio is tight inside, Brunner could only bring a student for each instrument based on their performance tests in the past.
Brunner texted Alex Adams, a senior middle grade science and language arts education major as well as experienced drummer on the marching band.
“He asked if I was free before 1 p.m. that day,” Adams said. “[Brunner] said ‘keep it on lock.’”
The trip was kept a tightly-held secret until five days before it was scheduled to happen. Until then, the 18 chosen members of the band, four color guards and a Diamond Girl who would be going were slowly given bits and pieces of what was to come.
Temple administration also contacted Connor Page, the president of Temple’s athletics fan club, the Cherry Crusade. After a series of meetings, the trip to GMA’s studios in New York City was scheduled to be two days after the band. It would be free for all students on a first come, first serve basis and the word was spread via the Cherry Crusade listserv.
“There was a lot of work on short notice,” Page said. “It was a collaborative effort.”
The bus for the marching band left Temple long before the sun came up at 3 a.m. on Sept. 10. To avoid oversleeping, many of the band members stayed up all night, including Adams, who was playing video games with a friend who was also going.
Once they arrived, the highly professional environment was immediately apparent.
“We passed by these expensive guitars of Sheryl Crow and Florida Georgia Line who were also performing that day,” Adams said. “Then we walked in on the set.”
After a quick practice run, they performed on the set twice, each time marching around the anchors for a few seconds on live national television. Adams, being the drum major, led at the front of the small band.
“Everyone was quiet until we got the queue to go,” Adams said, “Then everyone snapped into performance mode. I just held my breath from beginning to end.”
Once he got off the set and checked his phone, he was showered with congratulatory texts and his Twitter feed was loaded with chatter about the performance.
Outside, the color guard and a Diamond Girl were performing as well. They performed for a long time, Brunner said.
While there, the students were able to interact with the stars around them. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line had words of encouragement for them and GMA’s anchor, Robin Roberts, made a quick video with some of the band members, Brunner said.
“I really push [the Diamond Marching Band] to always be better,” Brunner said. “It rewarded the kids to get the respect they deserve.”
Two days later, Temple had a presence again at GMA with the Cherry Crusade.
When the roughly 85 students showed up on Sept. 12, they immediately started putting on body paint to show their school spirit. The students there ranged from four-year members of the Cherry Crusade to those who had just joined.
They set up at GMA’s outdoor stage in Times Square where they were welcomed by comfortable weather. Students interacted and took photos with both Josh Elliott, GMA’s news anchor, and Sam Champion, the show’s weather anchor.
Although the students would show a lot of enthusiasm when the cameras panned to them, they never had incidents of rudeness or aggression toward the other people there, Page said.
“They showed that everyone can have a good time,” he said. “I’m so proud of everyone.”
The hope is that this positive national attention for Temple and its organizations will earn respect as well as attract more incoming freshmen for the future, he said.
“Experiences like this do wonders for recruiting,” Brunner said. “Getting our name out there is really good for the entire school.”
As for Adams, he will remember what this meant for the university, but will also never forget what this meant personally.
“I never thought as a freshman that I would eventually do that,” he said, “I know that it will be a high point in my college career.”
Marcus McCarthy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @Marcus.McCarthy6