A digital special section of | Subscribe

Brooke Atlas

Brooke Atlas

Drum major, 2010-12 | Marching Illini | Class of 2013

It’s on the short list for the most memorable day of Brooke Atlas’ young life.

“My first home game at Memorial Stadium as a drum major was my sophomore year in 2010 — I still remember the exact feelings I had on that day,” says the music education major turned teacher, who spent three years as a Marching Illini drum major.

“I was so anxious to perform that I had butterflies in my stomach, never went away in my three years as drum major.

“Each season, the first gameday at U of I always felt so special. Being a part of the Big Ten football atmosphere is an incredible experience in itself. It was always amazing to me to go out with a group of 350 musicians and simply be a part of something bigger than me.

“My first gameday as a drum major, I remember our drum major huddle. Ben, Theresa and I huddled up and said ‘I’ll see you on the other side.’

“I couldn’t stop looking around and taking it all in. Our director got up on the podium and it was go time. We blew our whistles. 'Are you ready band?’ The drumline started performing the cadence and we started our run-on step.

“I don’t remember much until pregame was over. After we had a successful performance, my heart was racing and the butterflies remained, but I don’t think I ever stopped smiling that day.”