Before thousands watched her anchor the nightly news on TV, Beth Vaughn performed for big crowds in a Q-tip hat and tall black boots.
That’s the attire for Marching Illini drum majors, a role as memorable as any the Indianapolis TV personality will ever play.
“Sure," she says, "there are a handful of places that bring a smile to my face: Gregory Hall, where I was inspired to pursue journalism; the Quad, where I first fell in love with the Illinois campus; the Underground Library, where I spent hours — and hours — studying for finals; the Chi Omega house, where I was blessed to be surrounded by strong women; the basement of Kam’s, where Chief Illiniwek will live forever.
"Flat Top Grill, FAR, the Six Pack, Second Story Pizza, the Harding Band Building.
“However, there’s one spot that tops the list: the 50-yard line on Zuppke Field at Memorial Stadium. It was there that I led the Marching Illini, a dedicated group of musicians and performers, to cheer on the Illini football team.
"We didn’t win every game but the music sure was good. And the halftime performance was always exciting — the most exciting four minutes in all of college athletics, in fact.
“I was honored to lead the Marching Illini as drum major. Through that role, I fell in love with that stadium, that field and that 50-yard line. While I likely won’t ever again do a funky run in front of thousands of people, wearing tall black boots and a Q-tip hat, I would love to return one day to get another taste of that Illinois pride.”