You name it — Pride of the Illini, Illinois Loyalty, For Good Old Illinois — Carol Shuman Portman can sing it.
The head of the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois was, after all, a high-stepping, school spirit-exuding Illinette once upon a time.
”Two practical benefits from my time spent as an Illinette: I can still walk in 22 1/2-inch steps on command and I know all the words to every song associated with our Alma Mater fair,” the Class of 1984 grad says from Chicago.
Three-and-a-half decades later, she still remembers every part of it — from the inspirational leader of the band to that unremarkable corner of campus they tuned up on.
“One person had an outsized influence on me, and I can’t help but think of a specific place on campus at the same time: Gary Smith, director of the Marching Illini, and our practice field,” she says.
“Gary shouted, cajoled, praised and partied. Everyone knows hard work and cooperation achieve results, but he showed us how to have fun in the process, to respect and support each other, and to revel in the fact that we’d created something marvelous together.
“And most of that happened in a crappy bit of grass in the far southwest corner of campus. It was — and we were — in turns sun-baked, mud-caked and wind-swept. I think of the place any time I think of my undergraduate years.”