The 100 members of the Crossmen Super Bowl ensemble include a mix of current corps members, alums, and members of the new Crossmen Winds, a SoundSport ensemble comprised of brass, woodwinds, percussion, and color guard. Crossmen hails from San Antonio, Texas, about 200 miles from Houston down Interstate 10.
Crossmen has already become an integral element in the ceremonies leading up to the big game. This past Saturday, January 28, the corps kicked off Super Bowl activities by performing at the NFL Experience, a free outdoor event held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. National television networks covered the group’s performance as the Vince Lombardi Trophy, ultimately to be presented to the winning team upon conclusion of the big game, was presented to the City of Houston. The trophy will be on public display through Super Bowl Sunday.
The Crossmen ensemble will return to Houston on Saturday, February 4, for another performance at the NFL Experience. Then, on Super Bowl Sunday, the corps will be performing at the Game Day Fan Plaza outside NRG Stadium. This event will include numerous events for ticketed fans to enjoy prior to the start of the game, including a photo op with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“To provide this opportunity not only for the football fans descending on Houston for the big game, but also for the performers involved, is going to be incredible," Crossmen Executive Director Fred Morrison said.
Drum corps participation in the Super Bowl has been a regular occurrence in recent years, most recently in 2016 when the Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard performed in Vanguard’s own backyard for Super Bowl 50 in California. The Academy also had a role when Super Bowl XLIX came to Tempe in 2015.
“Our friends from the Academy, Mark Richardson and his bunch, gave us a little bit of a clue about what they had done [in 2015],” Morrison said. “We were approached by an entertainment group Mark had done business with about doing some performances in and around the Super Bowl.”
Interest among potential Crossmen performers was strong. Most of the ensemble is brass, complemented by woodwinds and percussion.
According to Morrison, “Some members just went through the audition process in November and will be putting on their uniforms for the first time. Volunteers came out to help fit uniforms for those who hadn’t worn one before, and the great folks from Directors Showcase made sure we had enough shoes and gloves.”
Members had to make a commitment to all rehearsals and performances back in November in order for Crossmen to get everyone through the credential process, a necessity for the increased security at such a major event. All those measures had to be completed by the beginning of December.
It was then required that all selected for the ensemble had to be at a rehearsal held during the corps’ January camp. Interest was so strong that one age-out member drove all the way from Minnesota to San Antonio to make that first rehearsal.
Morrison is rightly proud of Crossmen’s role in Super Bowl LI. “This is the biggest event on the planet," he said. "Any way we can be mentioned and be part of that thing can only be beneficial to us and also to Drum Corps International.”
Follow the Crossmen's social media platforms (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube) for updates throughout the weekend, and get an inside look into the festivities as members and staff share their experiences via the official Super Bowl LI hashtag #SB51.