The MOB gathers on both sidelines in groups of approximately four people, each group with a bundle of cardboard.
Ladies and gentlemen, today The MOB presents a very special halftime performance. This is usually where we would tell you how a university with the initials "P-U" has a good chance of stinking up the Big Ten, or just how a boiler-maker is like a village bicycle.
But not today. Because after all, we are a band with class.
Groups of MOBsters begin distributing the cardboard bundles on the field.
[ Begin video, with the following voice-over... ]
Today, as Rice University focuses on its centennial celebration, The MOB wishes to reflect on just how good we have it:
For instance, the Princeton Review says that we have the happiest students of any campus. We have a Division One football team playing its one-hundredth season. We have an irreverent marching band that continues to make national headlines a mere forty years since its inception.
And while U-T has its own brand of water... Rice has its own brand of beer.
But the success of Rice University transcends our small hedges — it is built upon strong relationships with our nation, and our local community. This year, the NASA Johnson Space Center celebrates its own fifty years of achievements, helping America and the world reach beyond our wildest imaginations.
On the field before you, The MOB assembles a two-thirds scale projection of the International Space Station — in honor of the men and women of Mission Control, who have inspired generations of young engineers, scientists, and dreamers.
For a bit of history on the first fifty years of collaboration between Rice and NASA, here is The MOB's director: Chuck Throckmorton.
My name is Chuck Throckmorton. I'm Director of Bands at Rice University, and director of The MOB – The Marching Owl Band. We're here at the Johnson Space Center to welcome back Rice alumna – and MOB alum – Shannon Walker, who has just come back from the International Space Station.
You know, Rice has a long history with the space program. Mission Control for NASA is in Houston, largely to the influence of George R. Brown and Congressman Albert Thomas, who were roommates at Rice. The land Johnson Space Center sits on was deeded to the United States government by Rice University. And in 1962, the speech by John F. Kennedy — it energized all of us to enter and take the leap into space — was given at Rice Stadium. And the spirit of what he said is still alive at Rice University. When he said, "We choose to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy, but because ... they're hard."
This subtle reminder is that: that milestone and many others will be celebrated at Rice's centennial celebration in October of 2012 – save the date. So where were we?
1963: Rice University opened the nation's first dedicated space science program. And in 1969, an experiment by a Rice professor landed on the moon in the first moon landing; there is a Rice University flag on the moon to this day. Since then, fourteen Rice University faculty and alumni have had the right stuff – or, the Rice stuff – to become astronauts and serve.
And one of those is native Houstonian, and MOB alumna and Rice alumna, Shannon Walker who has just returned from the International Space Station. Shannon, we are so proud of you, and you are such an inspiration both to Rice and to Houston, to young women everywhere who aspire to a career in the sciences, and just to random space geeks, I guess.
Thanks, Chuck! I'm sorry I can't be with you in Houston today but, as you can see, I'm in Russia at the moment. But I didn't want to miss today's NASA Day game and the chance to salute both my friends at Rice University and my colleagues at the Johnson Space Center.
You know, I didn't happen to bring my french horn with me to Russia – but! – I do have this nice fedora, and I do have a cowbell! So if it's OK with you, I'd still like to join The MOB in playing a song. Shall we?
Thank you, MOB alumna Shannon Walker.
And let's give a round of applause to the men and women of the Johnson Space Center who make up the heart of Space City, U-S-A.
While we are sad to see the Shuttle go, let us end not dwelling on the past but instead celebrating the future. Here's to the success of the International Space Station and the beginning of the next fifty years of Rice – NASA partnership.
Hey, Rice Stadium! I'm Chuck Throckmorton, Director of Bands at Rice.
And take a look at this! Is this impressive or what? This is the biggest prop I have ever seen on any football field anywhere, but we could not have done it ourselves. We had help from the aerospace club, from the cheerleaders, from Facilities and Engineering and Planning. We had it from alumni, we had it from our friends, we had it from graduate students — the entire Rice community came together to put the International Space Station on the field for you.
And the reason we did it is to point out how impressive this thing is. It is huge on a football field, and the real one is even bigger, and they built it in space!
Way, way cool. But I'm going to need your help. They expect to have a football game here in a little bit, don't they? So let's count it down so we can get the International Space Station back off the field.
Start at five, are you ready?
5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Go!
Yeah! Thank you Rice Stadium, and thank you ... NASA, ESA, and all of the space agencies. You inspire us, and we are proud to be a part of you.
Ladies and gentlemen, the two-thousand eleven Rice University Marching Owl Band!
We would like to express our most extreme gratitude to the Rice Office of Public Affairs for writing today's script.
The band deconstructs the ISS and carries it off of the field.
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