Learning how to Bucky: PHS alum have fun in UW band

Plymouth High School graduates Kaitlyn Krzyzaniak, left, and Anna Kleinhans are members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. — Submitted photo Plymouth High School graduates Kaitlyn Krzyzaniak, left, and Anna Kleinhans are members of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. — Submitted photo Two 2012 Plymouth High School graduates are thrilled to be in the storied University of Wisconsin Marching Band.

“I love being a part of the band because I know it’s so much bigger than me,” said Kaitlyn Krzyzaniak, a sophomore majoring in meteorology.

Anna Kleinhans, who plays the trombone and is majoring in animal science, earned a spot in the band her freshman year, after seeing her older brother Nathan and a cousin in the band.

“Whenever I would go to a Badger game and see the band perform I had so much fun and I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be marching on the field at Camp Randall in front of thousands of people,” said Anna, who also attended band concerts at the Kohl Center. “Seeing the band whenever they performed became one of the most exciting things for me, and I thought it would be incredible to be a part of it.”

Kaitlyn also enjoyed watching the band performances with Anna, though she initially did not seriously consider trying to join the band. But during her freshman year she became good friends with a girl on her dorm floor who also was in the band, and between her and Anna she met many band members.

“Everyone loved it so much, and their enthusiasm made me realize how much I wanted to be a part of it, too,” Kaitlyn said.

The problem was that she had played clarinet all through high school – and only eight clarinets get to march on the field, so those spots are highly competitive. By comparison, there are at least 50 trombones on the field at all times.

“When I decided to try out, all of my band friends warned me that I had a better chance of making the band if I learned to play the trombone over the summer than if I tried out on clarinet,” Kaitlyn said.

So she taught herself to play trombone. She practiced almost daily all summer long, and Anna gave her weekly marching lessons.

Kaitlyn also got in shape by running and biking during the summer. Anna had gone through tryouts – called Reg Week – the year before and warned Kaitlyn about the physical demands of the week. “It is an incredible workout, and it took me a lot of practice to get use to the form of the marching step,” Anna said.

During Reg Week, held the last week of August, potential band members practice for seven hours on Monday, then for four to five hours daily the remainder of the week. They participate in a Badger game on Saturday and finally find out on Sunday who made the band.

Despite the physical struggle, Kaitlyn said she really enjoyed Reg Week. “Participating in my small part of the game on that Saturday – before we knew if we made it or not – completely confirmed my beliefs that I really wanted to be a part of the band,” she said.

Those selected had to pick up their uniforms and instruments right away, and they joined the rest of the band for practices beginning the next day. The band practices from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Game days begin with an early-morning practice, then the band performs at Union South before marching into the stadium.

“Game day performances take up a vast majority of the day between all the different places we stop and perform, and they turn into pretty exhausting days,” Kaitlyn said.

In addition to home games, the band also did full performances in Wisconsin Rapids, at the Illinois game and at a Green Bay Packers game this fall. Members of the band also can perform at volleyball games, hockey games and basketball games. There also are dinners and competitions with their ranks.

The Packers game was a highlight for Kaitlyn, which included warming up on the Packers practice field. “Not many people can say they worked out where the Packers do,” she said. “And marching on the field at Lambeau was an amazing experience.”

She also enjoys the Fifth Quarter performances after games, which have little structure, and the end of every Friday practice before a game when the band circles the conductor and drum major chanting “Eat a rock!” She said, “I still get chills every time we do it!”

Anna said marching in the halftime show at the 2013 Rose Bowl is one of her fondest memories. “The adrenaline rush at the final knee bow and hearing the roaring crowd put me in awe and just couldn’t stop smiling,” she said.

Anna is thrilled with the entire experience of wearing the UW Marching Band uniform. “I have made so many new friends and we’ve been able to share wonderful experiences together,” she said. “That rush of excitement that I get before every show we perform never gets old.”

Kaitlyn and Anna both encouraged others wanting to try some- thing to give it a shot. “Don’t be afraid to get involved and try new things,” Anna said. “You never know who you could meet, what could happen, or how many memories you could make!”

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