10 Questions with Drum Major Ian Kenney
Ian Kenney was recently selected for his third and final season as the Drum Major of the Penn State Blue Band. I sat down with him to find out a little more about the guy behind the flips.
Onward State: What are some changes you would like to see in Beaver Stadium next season?
Ian Kenney: I would definitely like to see more involvement of the band in the gameday experience, meaning less piped-in music. There were a lot of moments last year where I’d be up on the ladder and it would have been a perfect opportunity for the band to start arousing the crowd. Right as we were about to start, there would be some piped-in music, and I would have to stop them last minute or there would just be a clash. There definitely needs to be more communication on that matter. Also, Bill O’Brien came to our banquet, which makes me hope that’s a good sign for some more opportunities.
OS: What are your thoughts on the team joining the Blue Band for the Alma Mater after the football games?
IK: I love it. We don’t have any real post-game traditions other than the Blue Band’s on-field performance, which most fans don’t get to see because they’ve already left. This will give a lot of people a reason to stay after the game’s over. We don’t know what exactly is going to happen yet, though. Will the team join us on the field or in the stands? There are so many question marks about next season, and it’s only April. There’s still a lot I won’t know until August.
OS: How many times a day do you practice the flip?
IK: I do not practice it daily at all – the strain that practicing on grass has actually limits me from doing it very often. If anything, I’ll go on grass every three weeks, and I’ll do no more than four. So if you think about it, in about 15 weeks I’ll do four every three weeks, making 20 flips done on grass between now and the first game. I’d rather not overdo it, to take care of myself and my legs, but if I feel that I need extra preparation, I’ll do it every other week or every two weeks. Otherwise, I’ll just go on the trampoline – it’s the same motion and requires the same coordination, and it’s just a lot nicer of a landing.
OS: What are some differences between playing in the Blue Band and playing bass in Public Domain?
IK: Well, there’s obviously a lot less people. But seriously, there’s a lot more room for improvisation, rather than having to fit into a mold. You can stick out, show off a little, and throw your talents in there.
OS: Do you ever bust out flips when you’re out at night?
IK: HA! Never.
OS: Has being the Drum Major helped you get laid?
Laughing, that can’t be published! (sorry, Ian).
IK: Actually, most people don’t know who I am outside of football games. I think it’s funny to wait as long as I can before people find out that I’m the Drum Major. The game I play is I wait as long as I can before a girl I’m talking to inevitably finds out. Some people find out after three weeks of talking to me, and it’s so funny because they get so excited. Most of the time though, I’m with people who introduce me as the Drum Major and I hate it. It’s like a separate life. I don’t like to be that. I like to be myself first.
OS: What is your most embarrassing flip mess-up?
IK: OH GOD. It’s a tie between Youngstown State 2010 and Temple 2011. Youngstown State was my very first game as Drum Major. I landed, and I was just about to stand up and realized that my weight was so far back. I took about 5 or 6 steps before I fell on my ass. It was tough because it was my very first one. It was just not a good way that I wanted to start after months and months of preparation. I felt like half the student section was going, “Oh crap, this is the guy taking over?”
This year at the Temple game, I had pneumonia. I wasn’t wearing my contacts because I also had pink eye. I couldn’t see a thing. I landed the first one perfectly. I just had to get through one more. I got halfway through the band and started cramping up, and I was just toast. I just kind of launched myself into the end zone, and basically fell flat on my back in front of the entire Temple student section, and I could hear them “ooooohing.” It was the worst moment of my life.
OS: If you were a dinosaur, what kind would you be?
IK: Hm. I don’t know many dinosaurs. I was never really into dinos. You know when everyone was little and loved dinosaurs? I was just like, “whatever man.”
OS: Have you thought about trying anything interesting this season similar to using a GoPro last season during pregame?
IK: I’ve always had crazy ideas like putting fireworks on my cleats or something, little stupid things that would probably never be allowed to happen. But it would be neat if I could wear a camera that could transmit and it could be put on the jumbotron. That and doing some more baton work.
OS: As a devout baseball fan, who do you think will win the World Series this year?
IK: The Yankees, obviously.
**Note: Ian is actually a devoted Red Sox fan. I don’t know what happened, but he seems to have had a single moment of clarity for this answer.
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About the Author
Our photographers were on hand to capture the sights of Penn State basketball’s return to Rec Hall.
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“I’ve just been super interested ever since that first year trying to grow my personal THON story, get more connections to it, help as many people as I can, and be that person [my mom] is for other people.”