COLUMBUS — Sidney graduate Avery Voress is making a life-long dream come true Saturday afternoon when he takes the field for the first time as a member of The Ohio State University’s Marching Band during the Buckeyes’ first football game of the year against Oregon State.
“I dreamed as a kid being able to do “Script Ohio” just once in my life, and I think in the past week, I’ve done it a dozen times. It’s quite amazing. It still hasn’t hit me yet; I’ll be honest,” Voress said with a reserved excitement in his voice by phone Thursday morning. “I’m looking forward to that, Saturday. I’ll be marching this Saturday against Oregon State in the ‘Shoe.’”
Voress accomplished a somewhat rare feat by earning a regular spot as a freshman on Aug. 13. He will take his place on the field Saturday among 23 other sousaphone players out of the 192 regular member band on game day. The band as a whole has 228 members, which includes 36 alternates.
Although Voress earned a regular spot on the field, he said he must continue to prove he belongs there. After each game, alternates can challenge regular members to replace them on the field come the next game day.
“The hard work doesn’t stop after try-outs. My spot’s not guaranteed. When I made the band, I made a regular spot. That’s why I’ll be marching (Saturday),” he said.
In terms of hard work, Voress immediately got a taste of his new life as a member of “TBDBITL” with three, three and a half hour practices a day until class began on Aug. 21. Now that school is in session, band practice is for two and a half hours each evening, on top of challenges as an incoming freshman living on campus away from home.
Tryouts, he explained, were four “intense” days for incoming freshmen, with the first two days of instruction and the following two days being considered actual try-out days. Returning band members fighting for a spot only attended the last two days, he said. Approximately 350 students competed to make the band.
“(Tryouts were) a little hard core. Basically, there are two, three hour sessions each day. First they do what they call an ‘on the line,’ where you and one other person trying out stands on the line and the squad leaders yells out to you what feels like 1000 drills. And you have to execute those from memory perfectly. And after that everybody gets together and we go down and back, down and back, countless times playing the OSU fight songs; doing school songs. And it gets a little tiring,” Voress explained with a chuckle.
But Voress, who is majoring in tuba performance, didn’t just show up to the two days of tryouts instruction. He put in the work of preparing for tryouts for weeks and months ahead of Aug. 13. He said his parents took him to the occasional football game, but they also, and especially his mother, Diane Voress, took him to watch the OSU Marching Band’s Scull Sessions at St. John Arena, held before every home game last fall. The Scull Sessions are a free event which has become a popular concert/per rally with up to 10,000 fans in attendance.
In addition, he attended summer sessions, both this summer and last summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays to prepare, and on the other days, practiced with his mother at Sidney High School’s (SHS) stadium.
Voress admitted that it was a “pretty emotional moment” when he stood alone on the field in Ohio Stadium and heard his new band director, Dr. Christopher Hoch, call his name the night of the final tryout day.
“Finally when he got to K row, and read K-6, he read my name and I don’t really remember anything after that,” he said with a laugh. “I walked in alone. It was all my competition. So I remained solitary, I guess. But it’s quite amazing once you make band, it’s a huge family. Once you make it, they treat you like you’ve always been there. It’s a really awesome feeling that you wouldn’t expect.”
“I want to give a shout out to my mom. My mom was a huge part of me making the band. She was my biggest supporter. She practiced with me almost everyday during the summer. She would yell at me if I was doing something that didn’t look good or if I needed to pick up my feet during my practices,” he said.
Avery’s mom, Diane said, “He is so dedicated. He will be able to do anything he wants in life. He just works so hard at what he wants to do. He works day and night at it. It’s a wonderful experience for us watching his progress.”
Avery said he gravitated toward music on his own and picked up the tuba in seventh grade after a year’s try with the french horn. “It wasn’t very pretty,“ he said with a laugh.
Diane said the whole family, including Avery’s brother and fiance who live out of state, are excited to come support Avery Saturday at the game. She and her husband Trent, Avery’s dad, have tickets for the first three home games and even though they both are OSU alumni, have a lot more OSU gear in their house now.
Avery and his family are also very excited to be traveling to New York on Thanksgiving when he marches in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
He expressed gratitude toward SHS Band Director Chris Adams who was a “huge support” as well as SHS Athletic Director Mitch Hoying, and also the Sidney community.
“A huge thanks to the Sidney community. A lot of support from the Sidney community. There’s tons of people who have congratulated me. Some I don’t even know, so that’s one of the coolest feelings about it. All of my friends are going wild and my family are going nuts about it. And a shout out to my band director, Mr. Adams, he’s been a huge supporter and helped me a lot,” Avery said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.