My name is
and I am a 1998 graduate with 3 degrees from The Ohio State University. I am also a 5 year member of The Ohio State
University Marching Band from 1993-1997.
I am writing today to not only express my support for Jonathan Waters,
but to also share my very special experience in the OSUMB as well as in my
friendship with Jon.
Let me take you back to 1992. I was a 17 year old naïve freshman at OSU who came from a very small town. I graduated with 63 people and played in a high school band of 30. I was told I was too quiet, too anxious, too inexperienced and too overweight to even consider making The OSUMB by many people in my hometown. I drove 3 hours one way every Tuesday and Thursday to attend summer sessions in order to learn the techniques necessary to make the band. Tryouts came and went and I returned home cut from the band. Much like every other experience in my life, I refused to give up and came back for a second time in 1993. I again drove 3 hours one way every Tuesday and Thursday for summer sessions and again I was cut from the band. A month later I was literally packing my things to return home and transfer to a new school as the ONLY reason I wanted to attend The Ohio State University was to fulfill my dream of becoming a member of The OSUMB. On that same day I was packing, I received a phone call. On the other end of the phone was a staff member of The OSUMB. She informed me that someone had been released from the band and they would like me to join the band as his replacement. I made one call to my mom and dad to inform them and then literally ran to the stadium as my dream had finally come true… I was a member of TBDBITL! Reality set in very quickly though… I was in a room full of strangers, I had just replaced one of their friends, I was still quiet, naïve, anxious, and overweight. Would these people even accept me for who I was? The answer to that question is a resounding YES. I was welcomed with open arms into a row of 11 men and 2 women. Each person went out of his/her way to help me understand the new part I was playing, how to read charts, where to get my uniform, what I needed to buy to complete my uniform, where I needed to be and when, how to memorize my music, and many other little things I never would have considered as a naïve rookie. It very quickly became apparent to me that for the first time in my life I wasn’t being judged by my peers because I was quiet and overweight. For the first time in my life I was immediately accepted as one of them and they didn’t care where I was from or what I looked like… I was simply a member of their family. My new family never made me feel like an outsider, they never made fun of me, and they always looked out for me.
There are two very distinct experiences I remember where my new family made sure I felt supported, protected and cared about. The first of which was my very first
Michigan game which occurred in .
I remember as we marched into the stadium and down their ramp and a
member of my row turned around and looked at me and said “hold on to your hat,
and don’t let anyone touch you”. With my
eyes wide and fear in my chest I trudged down that ramp as my row mates kept an
extra eye on me to ensure I was ok and untouched. Fast forward to my very first bowl game trip
which occurred at the Holiday Bowl in Michigan . I had
the time of my life exploring the San Diego Zoo with my row, going out to
dinner, laughing and joking in our hotel rooms and exploring San
Diego together. Again, naïve Allison was about to enter Tijuana without a clue in
the world what to expect. Why were these
band veterans even allowing me to hang out with them? It just didn’t matter to them what class I
was, they wanted me there. One row
member assisted me in buying a blanket and another one pulled me away from
someone who was trying to take my money.
Such little things to most, but huge and meaningful to me. These guys didn’t have to watch out for me,
they didn’t have to care… but they did.
And with that I finished my first year of TBDBITL as a whole new person
with hope in my heart. Tijuana
I made the band the next 4 years after that. With each new year came new friends, roommates, and memories that will last a lifetime. That small town girl was eventually voted by her peers to be their squad leader for her final 2 years in band. That overweight, quiet, naïve girl was accepted as a leader and no one cared about her past. My personality blossomed, my self esteem raised to new levels, and most importantly I had friends I knew would be in my life forever. One of those friends is Mr. Jonathan Waters. Jon was a few years behind me in school and I didn’t even know him as he was trying out. But one day he approached me and an instant friendship was formed. Jon shared that he knew instantly that we would be friends forever simply by seeing the smile on my face and knowing it was meant to be. We were inseparable from that day on. Jon was someone I knew I could trust, someone I knew would always have my back, and someone I knew would always protect me and care about me as a person. I can say without a doubt that Jon is a man of integrity, respect, honesty and amazing loyalty to his family, friends, students, etc. Let me take you to a day in 1998 when I was preparing to graduate from The Ohio State University. I planned to engage in a senior ritual (unrelated to anything marching band) and Jon made sure I knew that if I needed anything during that ritual that I was to call him and he’d be there to get me or to help me through it. Unfortunately, on that night I did need Jon. That night I became acquainted with a man who felt it was necessary to put me in an extremely uncomfortable and scary situation. After being told “NO”, this man felt it necessary to push the issue and I found myself the near victim of a sexual assault. Scared and feeling alone, I remembered the words of my friend who said “call me if you need me”. Freeing myself from his hold I was able to lock myself in a bathroom and call my friend Jon Waters for help. He was able to talk me through things, calm me down and assure me I would be ok. The very next day there was a knock on my door and there stood Jon Waters with his arms stretched out ready to hug me and let me know I was ok. We sat for a long time in silence that day, but I knew that I had someone to rely on and someone who came through on his promise that he would make sure I was safe. Yet today that same man is being accused of allowing sexualized behaviors and assaults to occur in his band. Anyone who knows this man, takes the time to know this man, or even hears stories about this man knows that this is a far cry from the truth.
My life would not be what it is today had it not been for the acceptance, support, positive experiences, laughter, and friendships I gained while a member of The OSUMB. Never once did I feel threatened, harassed, forced or degraded during my time with the marching band. I can say this with confidence as I came from a place prior to college where those things did happen. They happened on a daily basis. The Ohio State University Marching Band was MY safe haven. The band was my platform for growth, happiness, self esteem, and a collection of friendships that will never end. I know that without a doubt if I ever need anything that a member of my band family is only a phone call away… we protect each other, we support each other, and we care about one another without reservation or hesitation. Jonathan Waters is without a doubt the best person to build our band and to take it to higher levels. His dedication, his passion, his loyalty, and his respect for The OSUMB is of the highest level possible. He has my full support as a person, as a leader, as a friend and as a “family” member and I truly believe that not for one minute Jon ever tolerated anything negative, demeaning or illegal within OUR band.
The Ohio State University Marching Band is a place where dreams are fulfilled, personalities are developed, friendships are made and lives are changed. My life changed the moment I walked into that band room as an official member of TBDBITL. I experienced things I never would have had the chance to experience had I not been a member of the band. I made friends of all cultures, religions, races and beliefs whom I would have never met had I not been a member of the band. To say that The Ohio State University Marching Band changed my life is an understatement… The Ohio State University Marching Band is a place where growth is encouraged, demanded, and accepted. I am a better person for being a member of The Ohio State University Marching Band. I am a changed person, I am a confident person, and I am a person who is blessed with the largest “family” in the world. The Ohio State University Marching Band MADE my life.