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Kyle Cline

Kyle Cline

Chief Illiniwek 35 | Caterpillar engineer | Class of 2006

We asked some of the 39 men who portrayed Chief Illiniwek: What was your funniest, most forgettable experience while wearing the beaded buckskin?

Here’s Chief No. 35, Kyle Cline, now an engineer with Caterpillar:

“One of the thrills of portraying Chief Illiniwek was the chance to perform with the Marching Illini, several hundred of the most talented and dedicated musicians and scholars you’ll ever meet. Once a week, we got to rehearse with the Marching Illini on the grassy field near Huff Hall.

“One such week in late September, as the director called for the 'Three in One,' we lined up to come sneaking out through the band’s end zone formation. Only this week, as I crouched down and disappeared into the formation, I misjudged the distance and chose the wrong row.

"I found myself next to the drum line, dodging mallets and trying to slip under quad drums. I had just about made it through when wham. I took a direct hit from a base drum mallet to the side of my face.

"I careened off, smashing into a full line of marching musicians and bit the dust hard.

“To their credit, the Marching Illini never missed a beat. The 'Three in One' kept going, and I joined in, albeit a good 30 seconds later, after the stars cleared.”