Safety trumps marching band trip

Instead of enjoying the sun and sand in Monterrey, Mexico, the Horned Frog Marching Band, TCU Showgirls and TCU Cheerleaders will be here, enduring the effects of Hurricane Rita.Today, they were supposed to be on their way to Mexico to perform during halftime of a Mexican soccer match, said Brian Youngblood, marching band director and associate director of bands.

The decision to cancel the trip was made Wednesday. Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nowell Donovan, TCU Safety Department director Randal Cobb, and director of bands Bobby Francis decided that traveling south would not be a good idea because of rain and traffic resulting from Rita.

“It’s the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen,” Donovan said. “I’m sure that creates a great deal of wunhappiness, but I’m sorry.”

On Wednesday morning, cheerleading coach Jeffrey Tucker told Donovan and Francis that the cheerleaders would not be going on the trip.

“Nobody wants to go more than me,” Tucker said Wednesday. “It was a grand idea, and I want to be a part of it, but it’s a risk I’m not willing to take with our students.”

Tucker said he made the decision after he received several calls from concerned parents and cheerleaders.

Wednesday night, Francis sent out an e-mail to all band members informing them the trip was canceled.

“It is disappointing, no doubt, but under the circumstances I think they all understand,” Francis said.

Most band members are understanding, said Eric Higginbotham, a senior religion major and band member. He also said he found out many band members did not really want to go anyway because of the 10-hour bus ride.

They were scheduled to arrive late Friday, perform Saturday, ride back Sunday and go to school Monday, Higginbotham said.

The trip could be rescheduled for next year, but that is not final, Francis said.

Senior Showgirl Jenny Whitson said she is disappointed because she does not think she will get another opportunity like that.

FEMSA, the largest beverage distribution company in Mexico, was providing more than $65,000 for the trip, Youngblood said.