‘Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before’
Texas native realizes TBDBITL dream with help from alumni.
The weather during Ryan Dunson’s first visit to Ohio State as a high school junior almost scared him off.
“Texans aren’t nearly as accustomed to the cold as most people who go here are,” says the Aledo, Texas, native, who is now in his first year at Ohio State studying logistics management. “I thought it was an ice block.”
But Dunson, who has been taking percussion lessons since age 10, could not resist the lure of playing for The Best Damn Band In The Land.
“The band was incredibly welcoming on my first visit to campus, and they made me realize how much I wanted to go here,” he says.
The OSU Alumni Club of Dallas/Fort Worth also gave Dunson a warm welcome to Buckeye Nation; following his acceptance to the university, the club awarded him a $2,000 renewable scholarship.
The club chose Dunson from the largest field of applicants it has seen since it began awarding scholarships nearly two decades ago. “We look for strong academics and strong extracurricular achievement,” says Cindy Bishop, the club’s fundraising chair. “In addition, the applicant must have a strong reason to attend Ohio State.”
The scholarship helped Dunson underwrite his travel expenses so he could spend half the summer in Columbus rehearsing for his band audition. The preparation paid off: On August 16, 2016, he earned a spot playing snare in the Ohio State Marching Band.
His alumni supporters celebrated his feat. “We are very excited that Ryan made TBDBITL,” says Bishop.
It is a storied honor and tradition, ushering the rest of the band onto the field before every home game with the familiar cadence that stirs every Buckeye fan’s heart.
“The ramp was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” Dunson says. “I was so focused on keeping in time with the person in front of me that I didn’t even see my parents who were filming me at the very bottom.”
Another life milestone came at the end of the season.
“Even though we lost the game, the Fiesta Bowl trip was one of the best experiences of my life,” he says. “The best part was right after Clemson’s band left the field for pregame. As soon as they were off the field, the head drum major, John Lavange, led the band to the starting pregame spots. When he took that first step off the sideline, the crowd went absolutely nuts, and band members everywhere, including myself, were raising our arms to pump up the crowd.
“The noise continued to get louder as we started our performance, and hearing 80,000 people on all sides screaming "O! H! I! O!" during Hang on Sloopy is something I will never forget.”
Dunson, who went on to play in the basketball band, is already looking ahead to next season and the memorable moments it will no doubt hold.
“I am already looking forward to next year's auditions, and I cannot wait to march down that field time and time again,” he says. “It was everything I had ever hoped it would be and more.”
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