By Jeff Holt
Published November 18, 2021 in The Burg
If you go to a sporting event at the University of Illinois - especially at the men's basketball games - it seems like the band members are having more fun than anyone.
You'll see the student section on their feet and soaking in that near-the-court experience.
Galesburg native Dillon Legate is one of those U of I band members you might see at the games. He's just starting his journey Legate took some time to answer a couple of questions.
Q: What is your favorite memory of band at GHS?
LEGATE: There are so many memories that I have from being in band, but the friends I have made are the reason why I continue to keep playing. The great memories that I have from band come from the people. With that being said, I cannot pick just one memory. I would not be the person that I am if it weren't for the people that I met and the experiences I had in the GHS bands program.
Q: Up to this point, what is your biggest highlight in band at the University of Illinois and why?
LEGATE: Marching Illini preseason camp this year. Last year, the Marching Illini only got together once to record songs for the football games. Other than that, we did not do much other than zoom meetings, which would consist of mainly either history lessons about the Marching Illini or going over marching fundamentals. This year, I finally felt like I was a part of the band and met so many new people. The days were VERY long, but it was magical finally getting to experience being a part of this band after waiting for over an entire year.
Q: Can you take me through a regular day at the U of I?
LEGATE: It depends on the day, but I usually wake up around seven or eight in the morning to start getting ready for class. It has been really busy recently with finals approaching, so I usually try to plan my day out in the morning. I then go to my classes which usually get over around four. I try to find time to do homework, study, and eat in between classes. We rehearse from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every weekday except for Thursday which is 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. I try to go to bed around 11 pm or 12 am.
Q: What is your goal this year and in the future?
LEGATE: My goal this year is to truly experience what it is like being an Illini and a member of the Marching Illini. Last year was very rough being a college student. All of my classes were online, and the spirit that I feel this year was definitely not present last year. I want to truly embrace and appreciate every experience I have while at Illinois and continue to carry it on into my future. This year, I also want to start thinking more about my long-term goal of becoming an Anesthesiologist. This is a very big goal of mine to reach years in the future, but I am starting to plan it out now.
Q: What is your favorite song to play and why?
My favorite song to play is definitely the Three in One. This was my favorite song to watch the Marching Illini perform when I was in high school. Now that I am actually a part of the band, it feels very special to perform this song. It is one of the oldest traditions in the Marching Illini being developed in the early 1920s. I feel very honored and humbled being a part of that tradition.
Q: When did you realize that band was something you wanted to do in college?
LEGATE: I've always planned on continuing to play in college, but I actually did not decide to audition for the Marching Illini until the end of marching season my senior year of high school. At our final performance here at U of I, I was very emotional thinking about everything that band and marching band have done for me. Although I have always planned on continuing with concert band, I then realized that I was not ready to let marching band go. After seeing the Marching Illini perform multiple times over my high school years, I decided that I wanted to go to U of I and audition for the Marching Illini.
Q: Who is someone that you looked up to while growing up in Galesburg?
I have always looked up to my parents and my grandparents. I truly do not know what I would do without them. My parents have always stuck by me in every situation that I have been in. They have and always will love me unconditionally. Without their support through every step of the way, I could not do what I am doing now, and I am so grateful to have such great parents and role models. Love you!
Q: What would you say to someone who has never attend a football game at the U of I?
LEGATE: The energy at these football games is unreal. I love game days, even though they are almost always 7 am call times, because of how much energy every person in the stadium brings. Every student is passionate about their school, and everyone in the crowd matches the intensity. I was also not expecting the crowd to respond to the marching band the way they did. All attention was on the field during our show. My first halftime show as a member of the Marching Illini, which was our first halftime show of this season, my stomach immediately dropped. I had never performed for that many people in my life. It was an experience that I will never forget.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
LEGATE: Auditioning for the Marching Illini is one of the best decisions I have made. It has been a life-changing experience to meet so many people and become a part of the tradition that will keep going for many years to come. There have been many points in my life where I am participating in activities just to reach an objective, but now, I am participating in things that I love doing. I am so proud and honored to be a member of the clarinet section in the Marching Illini.
(You can reach Jeff Holt at email@example.com)