Rapp Foundation gift lights up The Pride
Priority Newsletter/OU Foundation
Anyone who has driven past Asp and Timberdell on a fall evening has witnessed that “neither hail nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” can stop the University of Oklahoma marching band’s step-by-step pursuit of perfection. And while the Robert Glenn Rapp Foundation cannot do much about Oklahoma’s weather, Rapp trustees have eradicated the “gloom-of-night” part from future band practices. A $50,000 gift from the foundation will fund state-of-the-art lighting on the band’s practice field.
For years the band has made do in evening practices with ambient light from the nearby tennis courts and softball complex. Once Daylight Savings Time ended, expensive generator-powered lights were added to the mix, but the light did not cover the field evenly. Drum major Logan Stalcup said the bright glare made it nearly impossible to see the field marks, while the people in the fringes couldn’t see the field marks at all.
“In the early season, I’ve seen a few near collisions, especially from the trombones,” said Stalcup. “People don’t know where they’re going yet, and it’s dark. It’s not a good combination.”
Late semester brings different problems. “It’s cold and windy or rainy, and we’re out there practicing when we have the most going on academically. Night rehearsal is just one more stresser.”
Assistant director Debra Traficante, who writes and teaches the drills, could not see a fourth of the band at any given time, even from her three-story teaching tower on the field.
“I would just hope they were doing a good job,” she said. “The lights will impact everything. Having the Rapp Foundation do this for the students has really been special.”
The Rapp Foundation has a long history of supporting OU, musically and otherwise. In 1984, the new School of Music building was named for Rapp Foundation trustee Stanley B. Catlett to recognize the foundation’s exceptional support of that project. A 1921 OU law graduate, the late Mr. Catlett was himself a trombone player and a lifelong supporter of music and education. Throughout the years, the Rapp Foundation has made gifts totaling more than $3.3 million to support OU capital campaigns, athletics and endowed scholarships and faculty positions.
Named for independent Oklahoma City oilman Robert Glenn Rapp, the foundation was established in 1953 for the primary purpose of charitable giving, with emphasis on higher education and medical research. Trustee Michael Milligan, an OU College of Law alumnus and son of Rapp trustees James and Darlene Milligan, said those priorities still exist today.
“My mom had a degree in music from Oklahoma City University and always loved college bands. My dad has always loved college football,” he said. “My family has held season tickets since 1971, and we still go to all the home games.”
When the Milligan family attends the season opener August 31, they might notice The Pride stepping a little higher, the drills a little tighter. “To me, having lights on the practice field is fantastic. It means practices will go better, and we’ll be able to deliver a higher quality performance,” said Stalcup. “Our drill will look clean and not like we learned it half in the dark.”