When the Wildcats go marching in: K-State band steals the show at Cactus Bowl, receives new box truck

The K-State marching band preforms during the Cactus bowl game between K-State and UCLA in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 26, 2017.(Photo by Cooper Kinley | K-State Athletics / Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State Wildcats won against the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins 35-17, but they had one large group that stayed behind them.

The K-State marching band.

Even before the game started, the Pride of Wildcat Land could be heard all over the city of Phoenix, Arizona. You can hear them singing the Wabash Cannonball outside your hotel window, listen to them practice with band director Frank Tracz and see them playing for tailgaters outside of Chase Field, getting the fans ready for the game.

As the game proceeded on, the Wildcat band was the only band to take the field. UCLA’s band did not march or perform on the field at any time. To every K-State’s fan pleasure, the Pride stole the show.

“You decide if the band is good or not,” said Tracz. “My goal is to steal the show. [UCLA] didn’t go on field, so we took the time and we filled it up.”

K-State brought their entire marching band while UCLA brought a fraction of their band. K-State was loud and clear that they were there.

When it came to preparation, Tracz said the Pride was ready to go when the bowl game was announced.

“The Sunday it was announced we were ready to go,” said Tracz. “When you finally find out where we’re going you have to move really fast. We have a system of some staff members in place to get us ready to go.”

Before the band got on the road to head down to Phoenix, they were gifted something very special from a K-State fan.

Eric Stonestreet, K-State alum and ‘Modern Family’ actor, gifted the Wildcat band a brand new box truck.

In a post from KSNT, viewers can see Stonestreet driving the box truck with a police escort to the band, who were lining the drive.

When it comes to the box truck, Tracz said the staff was able to help design it.

“I knew it was coming about a month earlier,” said Tracz. “He asked why we used a Penske truck, later he said, ‘Well, I’d like to help you out with that. If you want to design it, I will get it for you.’”

As soon as the design was done, Tracz talked about how they hid the truck from the band members.

“We made a design, sent it down to Dallas and waited,” said Tracz. “On Sunday we sent a couple of student staffers down to Dallas to go get it and they drove it back. We hid it at the Stout Center, and nobody knew, which I was surprised about because of the heavy use of social media.”

The day that Tracz decided to unveil the truck, Stonestreet made an extra effort to get to Manhattan.

“When it came to the day of unveiling, I called him and he said he wouldn’t be there initially,” said Tracz. “Then, he called back and said he was coming and that he was bringing his parents. The police were great at helping. Eric and his mom were in the truck; his dad was in the car behind.

“He loves K-State, he’s purple, there’s no doubt about it,” said Tracz.

At the end of the day, Tracz thanked two people that heavily contributed to this season for the marching band.

“Eric Stonestreet is a saint; he gives back in more ways than you and I will ever know,” said Tracz. “I thank him for that. I also thank Coach [Bill] Snyder. He is the greatest coach in NCAA football. We are very grateful for what we get to do and who we support.”

I'm DeAundra Allen, co-editor-in-chief and sports editor at the Collegian. I'm a junior in broadcast journalism and pre-law, with a minor in philosophy. I was born in Brighton, Colorado, home of La Placita and the Bulldogs. I moved to Kansas in 2010, and fell in love with press boxes at a young age. In my spare time, I talk about my pets, sports, and work towards going to law school.