For Matt Bally, his “first game” was a rare night game opener against UCLA. Finally, the anticipation and criticism of a long off-season would come to a close. No longer would the Monday morning quarterbacks speculate who would start, who should sit, and who will have the break out year after a previous season of heartbreak. This was it, this was their team, and the team Ohio State fans will cheer, love, and stand behind with all their heart and soul over the next 12 games; it was the “first game”. Standing in the eye of the storm as they always do was The Ohio State University Marching Band.
“The drummer’s coast down the ramp in two single file lines, much like an early century army headed for war. The first drums hit and the rest of the band takes off down the ramp following the drummers into battle. They scream, yell, and shout row cheers as they psych themselves up to perform the best they can. One after another they fly down either side entering the field with determination and drive. And then there is a silence. They are all gone - and you, the Drum Major, stand alone in the tunnel. The Drum Major stands tall and proud with determination.”
“You are The Ohio State University Drum Major and all of sudden it hits you, like an awakening, that you have made it. All of the hard work and the long nights practicing and training, striving to stand where you stand today and you are strong!”
“On this day, for this game you will start the season and forever stamp your name with the great people that have come before you. So, with a smirk on your face that no one else understands and a twinkle in your eye, you target the 35-yard line and take off! That was my first game.” said Bally.
The first game is the game all drum majors always remember as a defining moment in their life.
Being the OSU drum major entails more than just ability and athleticism; it requires strong character and discipline.
Bally was selected the Drum Major of Elyria High School in 1995 and served for two seasons until graduation. “In my senior year I received an invite to attend an OSU football game and got my first look at the OSUMB and knew to be the best, I had to lead the best. My first season was spent on the Drum Major Squad (D-row) improving my skills emulating the current Drum Major.”
Bally’s first tryout tragedy struck in the off-season when he suffered a severe knee injury in February and was forced to have surgery to repair his ACL. After four excruciating months of rehabilitation was back just in time for tryouts. Judges selected Matt as the Assistant Drum Major for the 1998 season. The Assistant Drum Major position proved to be a very necessary step in becoming the Head Drum Major, allowing for a final refinement of skills as well as leadership responsibilities and limited field time.
“I trained harder than I ever had and became the Head Drum Major in 1999 and repeated in 2000.” said Bally.
Intermittently, Matt received another off-season heartache as he blew out the other knee and once again had to undergo reconstructive surgery. By “God’s good graces” Matt was able to rehab in time and make the start of the 2000 season.
“ My years as the head drum major of The Ohio State University Marching Band have forever left a lasting impression on my life. The experiences and adversity I dealt with helped mold me into the man I am today.” said Bally. “I would like to thank my parents, Jack and Sherry Bally for always believing in me and encouraging me to achieve my goals no matter how high the reach.” Bally said.
Looking back Matt does not wish to be remembered by his abilities or achievements, but rather for his love, passion, and excitement for Gameday. “We are The Best Damn Band In The Land!” said Bally.