From Duke to the Super Bowl, SU Marching Band is ready to play

In a matter of 24 hours, SUMB members will be performing at one of the largest regular season NCAA college basketball games ever and then the world's biggest annual football event.

It'll be a big weekend for sports fans, and potentially an even bigger weekend for the Syracuse University Marching Band.

The SUMB will start a nearly non-stop, 24-hour stretch Saturday night at SU's sold-out men's basketball game where a record-setting crowd of more than 35,000 fans are expected.

Photo: Allie Caren

Follow @NewsHouseLive and #SuperUMBowl to keep up with the band this weekend.

A mere 24 hours later, the band will find itself on an even bigger stage at MetLife Stadium in The Meadowlands, N.J., for Super Bowl XLVIII. The band is slated to perform with the Rutgers University Marching Scarlet Knights just before the 6:30 p.m. kick-off.

The hype of the upcoming weekend has Sara McCarthy reflecting on her time as a member of the band. The mellophone player remembers being nervous on her first day of band camp as a freshman four years ago.

Now, in her last semester on campus, she said she loves her section -- and the close friendships she's made -- and, because she knows what she's doing, "it's not scary anymore."

McCarthy, a French and francophone studies and linguistics senior, looks forward to the "surreal weekend" ahead of her.

"I don't think my graduation in May is going to be able to compare to this weekend," McCarthy said. "It can't get any better than this."

The marching band is directed by Justin Mertz, '01, who is a former SUMB saxophone player. The NFL contacted Mertz during the fall semester, in what he described as "out of the blue -- a complete surprise."

On Tuesday evening in the Carrier Dome, as the band's second-to-last practice before Saturday was concluding, Mertz continued to motivate band members to "get into this." To Mertz and many of the band members, the weekend is bound to be brimming with excitement.

"It's going to be a helluva thing."

Follow @Newshouse and use #SuperUMBowl to keep up with the band this weekend.

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