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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The band played on: Friday night isn’t just for football players

In 1978 there was a drum and bugle corps competition at Albi Stadium. It featured eight disciplined teams from California, Washington, Oregon and Montana. (The Spokesman-Review photo archive / sr)
In 1978 there was a drum and bugle corps competition at Albi Stadium. It featured eight disciplined teams from California, Washington, Oregon and Montana. (The Spokesman-Review photo archive / sr)
Lisa Leinberger

Editor’s note: Football players aren’t the only ones who make memories on Friday nights under the lights at Joe Albi Stadium. High school marching bands and drill teams also had opportunities to shine. One former drill team member shared here ‘Friday Night Lights’ memories.

My first year at Ferris, most of my excitement surrounded the first time I would perform in a marching band at Joe Albi Stadium. There was Astroturf! There were stadium lights! Most of all, there was an audience!

I was in the color guard in the marching band – the flag team. They taught me how to stand up straight and look up toward the press box when we practiced so we automatically did it during performances. We learned our routines and practiced and practiced and practiced during band camp and every day after school in the fall.

When the day finally came, we hopped on the school bus that took us to Albi. When we arrived, my mother was there and took pictures of me and my friends in our uniforms. We went to the concession stand for hot chocolate. We huddled in the stands near the band while they played the fight song and pep music during the first half.

Soon, we gathered at the top of the hill that led to the field. I could see the stadium lights. I could hear the crowd. I had butterflies in my stomach. I marched down onto the field with the rest of the band and found my spot.

“Mark time, hut,” the drum major shouted.

I don’t remember much from that point of the show on, but I remember catching the bug for performing in front of a crowd. That first experience at Joe Albi led me to join a drum and bugle corps and perform in stadiums across the country. It kept me coming back to color guard and drill team for the rest of high school. Later, when I was a newspaper reporter, I loved covering the marching band competitions at Albi.

And I still get that feeling of butterflies when I see the stadium lights at Joe Albi.

Lisa Leinberger graduated from Ferris High School in 1988. A longtime reporter for The Spokesman-Review, she is a communications professional in Spokane.

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