In her four years as a member of the UW Marching Band, Platteville’s Anna Musarra got to play the last concerts of band director Mike Leckrone and the first football games of new band director Corey Pompey.
Musarra’s fourth year will have an additional highlight today — marching in the 2020 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The game, against Oregon at 4 p.m. on ESPN, will be the first for Pompey, Musarra, and another Platteville High School graduate, Badgers coach Paul Chryst.
“It feels incredible!” said Musarra, a senior majoring in molecular biology who plays trumpet in the band. “It doesn’t really feel real yet. I’ve wanted to go since middle school, when I first started to want to join the band.”
The band’s schedule included a performance at LA Live, near the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, and Disneyland Monday, and a performance at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Tuesday.
Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowl for the 10th time in school history and the seventh time since UW athletic director Barry Alvarez was the Badgers’ coach. UW was chosen for the Rose Bowl after Big Ten champion Ohio State, which defeated the Badgers in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis 34–21 Dec. 7, was selected for the College Football Playoff.
“We’re thrilled,” Chryst told the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. “Playing against Oregon, that’s a big deal.”
Oregon won the Pac-12 Conference title and Rose Bowl berth by upsetting Utah 37–15 in the Pac-12 championship game.
“This team earned the right to play in the Rose Bowl,” said Chryst at the Rose Bowl coaches’ teleconference with Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. “That’s a big deal. And, you know, they’re a group that’s never been there players-wise. And so that’s an awesome experience for them. And then, obviously, get to play against a really, really good Oregon team — it’s everything you hope for and dream for so I’m really excited and all our players are excited.”
The band’s very long New Year’s Day begins when the band lines up for the Rose Parade at 6 a.m. Pacific time. The parade starts two hours later, with TV coverage in the U.S. on ABC, NBC, the Hallmark Channel, RFD-TV and Univision, and worldwide coverage, according to the bowl website, “live in Armenia, the Caribbean, Latin America and on American Forces Network. Outlets west of the International Dateline may schedule the broadcast in their time zone, or later in the year.”
The band also will perform at the Badger Huddle pregame party at the Brookwood Golf Course west of the stadium. The game will follow at 4 p.m. Central time on ESPN and on UW radio stations, including WGLR (97.7 FM) in Lancaster.
Leckrone was the band director for six Rose Bowls. Before the 1994 Rose Parade, Leckrone said at his final UW Varsity Band concerts in April, bowl organizers told him to play “On Wisconsin” whenever they saw red in the parade route. Leckrone claimed the band played “On Wisconsin” 130 times.
Wisconsin played in three Rose Bowls while Ray Dvorak was director of bands, losing to Southern California 7–0 in 1953, Washington 44–8 in 1960 and USC again 42–37 in 1963. It took 31 years to go back to the Rose Bowl, but the next three were winners under coach Barry Alvarez — 21–16 over UCLA I 1994, 38–31 over UCLA in 1999, and 17–9 over Stanford in 2000.
Alvarez retired and was replaced by Bret Bielema, who took the Badgers to the 2011 and 2012 Rose Bowls, losing to Texas Christian 21–19 and Oregon 45–38. After Bielema announced he was leaving to go to Arkansas, Alvarez coached the Badgers in the 2013 Rose Bowl, a 20–14 loss to Stanford.
“I’ve been there quite a bit and it’s always special — I love playing in that game,” said Alvarez, the first Big Ten coach to win back-to-back Rose Bowls, who also coached as an Iowa assistant in the 1982 and 1985 Rose Bowls, both losses under Iowa . “I try to tell everyone how really special it is. As time goes on, people will come up and tell me which Rose Bowls they’ve been to.”
Chryst was the offensive coordinator of the 2009 and 2010 Badger teams before leaving to coach at Pittsburgh, returning as UW’s head coach in 2015.
“I’ve reminded Paul that you’ve got to get the players out there beforehand so they can see the magnitude and the beauty of the stadium because it will overwhelm you the first time,” said Alvarez. “I have a chance to speak to the parents at a breakfast out there the day before the game against Oregon and I’m going to tell them, ‘Take everything in, and appreciate it.’ I’m just really happy that this group of kids and these coaches are going to experience the beauty of it all.”
Musarra previously marched in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, the Orange Bowl in Miami, and, last year, the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City, all UW wins.
“They were great!” said Musarra. “The Orange Bowl has been my favorite so far because of how the fans received us and the free time we had at the beach.”
This year under Pompey included the band’s traditional trip to Lambeau Field in Green Bay for a Packers game, the Big Ten football championship in Indianapolis, and now the Rose Bowl.
“It’s been great!” said Musarra. “He has introduced new elements while maintaining the traditions that are so important to us.”
UWBadgers.com’s Mike Lucas and Buckys5thQuarter.com contributed to this story.