Stephanie Fernandes starts 40 seconds of marching band hell by squeezing between a tuba and trumpet. Marching backward, she becomes the center axis in a pinwheel of saxophones and tubas, spinning 360 degrees into a field-length company front as she slides between another trumpet and mellophone.
Forward . . . left . . . backward . . . between yet another pair of tubas.
And, finally, a breather.
Sixteen direction changes in 40 seconds, 10 more than the average, tests the patience and coordination of every piccolo player in the Boston College marching band during its Western-themed halftime show. But Fernandes isn't fazed. Forming the bottom-left corner of the on-field "B" in "Boston College," even the roar of 44,500 fans packed into Alumni Stadium can't shake her. The freshman from Steubenville, Ohio, was nervous stepping onto the field for her first college marching band performance, sure, but entering Alumni wasn't any different than the four years she spent marching in Steubenville High School's Harding Stadium.
Fernandes simply readies to hit the first note of "For Boston," sending the Eagles onto the field and the stadium into a frenzy - the same note the marching band will hit a final time this year at Friday's Champs Sports Bowl in Or lando, Fla. (a performance Fernandes will miss because of her commitments as a soprano in BC's University Chorale).
Her focus is on where she needs to sprint next, on what note she needs to hit in perfect pitch. She had known marching band was for her well before she arrived at BC. Standing on this field had been her goal well before she sent the e-mail to the marching band's director this summer, the e-mail that read:
"For the past four years, band has been a major part of my life, and I believe I would like to continue performing.
However, I am totally blind."
Her story is inspirational. Read the remainder here.