30 Days of College Football (and band camp)

Nancy, Kelly and Ken

Name: Kelly Kral

Occupation: Design student, LSU

How we met: Kelly is the daughter of Ken and Nancy, who have opened their home to me in Houston, Texas twice now. The first was when I volunteered during the 2006 US mid-term elections for then Congressman Nick Lampson. The second was at Christmas last year where I spent a few glorious days relaxing from the pressures of my 30 Days for 30 Years adventure and enjoying their warm southern hospitality.

Kelly is a pint-sized pocket rocket who scored a highly coveted spot in the Louisiana State University Golden Band, which performs at all the college football games on her university campus. For those of you unfamiliar with magnitude of college football in the US, a film like The Blind Side might put it into perspective. As will Kelly’s story below:

The moment I stepped foot in Death Valley, LSU’s football stadium that can hold up to 92,400 fans, I knew this was the college for me.

Growing up, I’ve gone to plenty of Texas football games. In Texas, football is the biggest sport. People go crazy over it. But I have never seen people so proud and wild about football as the fans of the LSU Tigers.

People tailgating from sun-up to sundown, chowing down on jambalaya and Cajun food, and drinking as many beers as they can. In the stadium, the fans go wild, screaming and shouting. Death Valley is sometimes called Deaf Valley for how loud it can get. I was wide-eyed in amazement of how cool this place was.

Kelly, the tiny one second from the left 🙂

I knew the marching band was something I wanted to participate in. Little did I know how much work it would be, but also, how rewarding it would be. The Golden Band from Tiger Land is the best band in the south, and is well known around America. People worship the band here. When we march during pre-game, everyone starts clapping and cheering. You can barely hear yourself play. The rush of excitement you get by being surrounded by 92,400 people is unbelievable. It’s a feeling you never forget.

I play clarinet, and tried out the first week of college. After a hard week of 15-hour days, practices, and tests, I made the band, beating out a lot of other people for the spot. I was so proud of myself. But that was only the beginning.

The band practices everyday for two hours and then march the show we’ve been practicing for the games on Saturday. Saturday is an all-day event for the band. We get up at 7am in the morning and have practice, eat lunch, practice more, and then line up at the top of the hill to start the parade.

Photo-bombing the commentators!

All the tailgaters and fans line up around us to watch us march to the stadium. Sometimes after the parade, we do a pep rally in the PMAC building, and then from there, march into the stadium to play more songs until the game starts. Throughout the game, at every touchdown, firstdown, and so on, we play songs. The student section screams out different cheers for each song.

Last season, the LSU football team had won every game of the season, making us 13-0. We got to go to the National Championship, which is the biggest college football game there is. We had to play Alabama, a big time rival.

We had played Alabama once during the season and beaten them. It was the rematch. Everyone had shirts and pins that said “Beat Bama Again”. I got to travel with the band for free to this game, held in New Orleans. There were celebrations everywhere, a mix of red, gold, and purple.

Unfortunately LSU lost. It was the first game I’ve been to where I’ve seen my team lose. It was emotional and sad, but being in the band, and supporting my school and team was one of the best feelings in the world. And just being able to go to all these games, and experience it all was worth all of the practices and hard work. And along the way, I had made some really great friends and had some really fun times.



Playing during game time

New friends…


Band camp!


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