“Stay for the band,” roared fans in the student section just before Kansas State closed the first half with a score of 42-0. “Don’t leave, stay for the band” they continued to chant as people were preparing to leave before the halftime show.
After the halftime show, though, was a special edition of a band tradition, but performed with less fanfare.
“I actually wrote lots of cheers for our band,” Alton said. “Some stuck for a little while, some did not stick at all. And out of all the cheers I wrote, I never would have thought in a million years that this would have been the cheer to stick for 30 years now.”
Alton was a student at K-State and a member of the band during “some of the rough years of K-State football,” he said. The years 1982-1986, the years Alton was in the marching band, are known as some of the worst years in K-State football history.
“We did not see a lot of wins during my time here, and I did not want the band to lose spirit,” Alton said. “That was when I thought it would be cool to do a cheer for the band.”
It was exciting to have a song that brought the spirit of the band up, Alton said. But after graduating, he began to lose touch with the band.
“This song was here a lot longer than I have been here,” Frank Tracz, director of the band, said.
And it was not until 10 years ago, Alton said, when the memories of the band and his cheer came flooding back.
“I was at Arrowhead Stadium, and Iowa State football was playing,” Alton said. “And as I was walking I heard (“The Band is Hot”) playing from a bus. It was unbelievable to hear that, and I had to go talk to the driver. It turned out they were playing a K-State CD, and my cheer was one of the songs on it.”
It was shocking, Alton said, to know his song had really caught on and stuck. Since then, Alton has also heard his cheer being played by a high school band in Kansas City.
“I think this song proves just how great the band is, and how well they support one another,” Alton said. “They are all really great kids. Amongst them will be doctors and teachers and who knows what else. But the opposites attract. It’s just a band thing.”
Alton met his wife while playing in the K-State band, and now their daughter is an assistant drum major of the band.
“We probably would not have met if we were not both in band,” Alton said. “It’s really special. We got married in 1990, and now our daughter, Natalie, is one of the drum majors.”
Natalie Alton, junior in elementary education and assistant drum major, said it was the opportunity of a lifetime to conduct “The Band is Hot” right next to her dad.
“It was so fun,” Natalie said. “But in one other word it was memorable. Having two members from the same family and two different band eras playing together is really special.”