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MOB honors NASA at halftime

By Brooke Bullock     9/14/11 7:00pm

Filling the field with an 80-yard model of the International Space Station, the Marching Owl Band honored Rice's 50-year partnership with the Johnson Space Center and NASA during the halftime show at the Rice vs. Purdue game on Saturday.

The model, which was two-thirds the size of the actual space station, was the largest prop the band has ever built, MOB member Greg Narro said.

The university decided over the summer that the halftime show should be dedicated to Rice's partnership with NASA, Director of University Bands Chuck Throckmorton said.

Mike Cordray (Baker '06), a graduate student and former drum major, did some outside-the-box thinking and said, "Why don't we just show how impressive NASA is and do a model of the ISS on the field?" Throckmorton said.

NASA has blueprints of the ISS so that people can make their own models of the space station, Martel College senior Erin Lytle said. After researching the dimensions, Throckmorton said a life-size model would be too large, so a two-thirds scale was decided.

Rice public relations drafted the script for the show and NASA approved it, Throckmorton said. However, the MOB usually prepares its own scripts, show assistant Erin Lytle said.

"I think the show was out of character for the MOB, but the motivation behind it was in character," Throckmorton said. "This was something Rice was going to do, so we're going to support it."

While the MOB supported the decision, Jones College senior Narro said he would have preferred collaborating with Rice public relations on the script.

"I wish Rice PR had written the script with us instead of for us," Narro said. "The only gag we had was Shannon Walker starting ‘Louie, Louie.'"

Walker (Baker '87) is an astronaut and returned from the International Space Station last semester. The joke involved a video clip of Rice and MOB alumnus Walker playing the cowbell during the skit.

The props for the show became the MOB's only creative outlet, Narro said.

"The model was quite impressive," McMurtry College sophomore Audrey Jones said. "It was cool how they could assemble something that large quickly and take it down just as fast."

Because of preparations for the Rice vs. Texas halftime show, the MOB had just a week to put together the model, Narro said.

"I found a lot of MOB alums hanging around on the MOB listserv who said they wanted to help," Lytle said.

MOB drum minor and Brown College senior Ollie Barthelemy said that alumni were very enthusiastic about building the model.

"The alums were really involved in getting it [the model] started the weekend of the UT game," Barthelemy said. "Greg and Erin and the show assistants team took over after that."

Lytle said that the alumni were essential in completing the model on time, and Narro added that some of the alumni donated money to the project.

Friends from the residential colleges and the Rice cheerleaders also came to help build the model, Lytle said. She noted that they probably logged 500 man hours putting together the model.

"We had 376 undergraduate man hours," Lytle said. "Alumni worked about 90 hours that weekend [of the UT game]."

Lytle said that they had so many people come to help out there weren't enough jobs for everyone at one time. MOB member Rosalie Berg said that having so many people involved with the MOB was great.

"For this project I liked that we got to involve non-MOBsters," Berg. a Will Rice College senior said. "I think that was good for the MOB and for Rice."

McMurtry College sophomore Claire McWhite thought that the MOB did a great job with the model.

"I was really impressed with the scale of the project. The amount of planning to coordinate the construction and on field assembly of the station must have been huge," McWhite said. "Also, I have no idea where the MOB would have obtained all that cardboard."

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