BY CURT HARLER
Fifth-year senior Keith Griffith of Spring Mills, PA was fired up to do the drum major flip in front of 100,000 screaming fans. It is definitely the spotlight event for the Penn State Blue Band’s drum majors. Then, like so many other events, Penn State football was put on hold. The Blue Band’s season went topsy-turvy.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am disappointed,” Keith says. But he remains optimistic. “I’m super excited for the opportunity. Yes, this year will be difficult. But it is still Blue Band and still a great group of musicians, marchers, and leaders.”
Like many other members of the Blue Band, Griffith is looking to the Alumni Blue Band Association for help and inspiration.
“Obviously, having a super-strong alumni base – both across Penn State and especially the Blue Band Alums – is a major help. Any support ABBA can provide will be super-appreciated,” Keith continues.
As August winds down, block auditions proceeded as if nothing was too far out of the ordinary. “What the Blue Band will look like and what will happen is changing day by day,” Griffith says. His sister Ashley, on the drumline, is another member of the Blue Band whose on-field experience is up in the air.
Yes, Keith is disappointed that he may not get the opportunity to showcase his flip in front of 110,000 people at a white-out game. Practicing the flip in one’s back yard is not the same thing. Still, he plans to get comfortable with the flip and his other moves in front of the 300 members of the 2020 Blue Band and work from there. “I will stay in shape. When I’m called upon to do the flip, I will be ready,” he states.
Griffith points out that Blue Band is so much more than simply football. He is a fifth-year senior in the Honors Program for Engineering Science. While he is majoring in engineering, his long-term goal is to get a medical degree and focus on neuro-biology or neuro-surgery. Since engineering is focused on problem-solving, he figures it will be a great boost to his medical career.
A trumpet player by trade, Griffith took over from Jack Frisbie as drum major. Griffith did a co-op a year ago and so required more time to finish his degree. As a bonus his fifth year provided a golden opportunity to gain an extra year with the Blue Band.
Now, his goal is to provide hope to people in the Penn State community despite the trying times. “People will look to the Blue Band for something to hold onto,” he believes. Knowing the alums are behind them will help. “We’ll be doing our best,” he promises.