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10 Questions With New Blue Band Drum Major Ryan Frist

There are few gameday traditions less recognizable than Penn State’s Blue Band. And within the band, the most recognizable figure is undeniably the drum major and their traditional “flip” during the band’s pregame show.

As the years have gone on, there have been many to do the flip at the 50-yard line. This year, the honor goes to third-year student Ryan Frist.

Named the drum major in June, Frist will be taking the field this Saturday with the Blue Band for Penn State’s home opener against Ball State. We sat down with Frist to get to know him a bit before his big day.

OS: Can you tell the folks at home a little about yourself?

RF: My name is Ryan Frist. I’m a third-year at Penn State, my major is mechanical engineering, and this will be my third year in the Blue Band as well. I’m from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

OS: What instrument do you play, and why did you pick the instrument you chose?

RF: I played the trumpet the last two years, and I’ve been playing that for about six years now. I started playing in middle school. I picked that instrument because it was just one of the instruments that were available to me. My uncle played it, so he had a hand-me-down instrument that I was able to use. It seemed like the instrument that was easiest at first and I just fell in love with it.

OS: Why did you want to become the Blue Band’s next drum major?

RF: That was always the plan, to be the drum major. Even back when I was in high school, before I even applied to Penn State, I had a huge goal set up that I would apply to Penn State, get in, go to the main campus, join the Blue Band, and be the drum major. I’ve always been a fan of marching band. I was in marching band in high school and the drum major there as well.

OS: How did you get into music?

RF: My sister found her calling in music, and my parents weren’t necessarily in music when they were kids in school, but they were always super supportive of it. So, my sister found her calling in music, and I’ve always sort of had this competitive nature to not be the one child to not go into music, so I had to shadow her in a sense. She found her calling in more of the vocal side, and I found my calling more on the instrumental side.

OS: In your opinion, what makes being in the Blue Band different from the other college marching bands around the country?

RF: In the Blue Band, I feel we have a greater sense of tradition. We strongly uphold our morals, whereas a lot of bands may be in it to have fun. We’re in it to do a job, and we make sure we are the best we can be each week.

OS: Do prefer doing the pregame or halftime performance? Why?

RF: I definitely like the pregame more because of the tradition. It’s been the same since, I believe, 1968, when Dr. Deihl rewrote the pregame. Halftime is more of crowd entertainment, but pregame is where the true musical talent comes out.

OS: How’s your flip coming along?

RF: It’s pretty good! I am 97% effective at it. I don’t usually miss them. It’s gonna be exciting! We’re what, four or five days away from Saturday? So it’s going to be exciting, and I’m ready for it.

OS: How has the Blue Band adapted to going back to normal after not being able to play in the stadium last the fall?

RF: Our rehearsal habits have been able to return back to something shadowing what a normal year would be. We’re able to march in our two and four-step intervals outdoors, but we’re always mindful of the invisible enemy that is the coronavirus. We always uphold our university guidelines, but at least whenever we are allowed to rehearse outdoors, we make the most of each rehearsal.

OS: What are you looking forward to the most when the first home game comes?

RF: I’m looking forward to standing in that tunnel and peering out to see the north end zone. I’m hoping James Franklin came through and got a sold-out stadium for the home opener. I’m excited to see how intense the fans are going to be.

OS: As per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?

RF: Oooh, I would definitely be the velociraptor. In terms of athletics, my quickness has always been my strength. I’m not super strong or a bodybuilder, but I’ve always been fast, so definitely a velociraptor.

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About the Author

Charles Reinert

Charles Reinert is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from Norristown, Pennsylvania and is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. He loves playing his guitar, the color blue, and Tetris. If you feel the need to give him any positive or negative feedback, you can follow him on Twitter @charles_rein10 or email him at [email protected]

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