Tiger Band: What’s age got to do with it?
At 3 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Jeannie Brown is in scrubs. By 4 p.m. she’s in her practice clothes and on the Tiger Band practice field.
Playing in Tiger Band is a life-long dream, and there was no way she was going to let her age — she’s 41 — or her job — she’s a full-time RN — get in the way.
“I knew if I didn’t do this now, I’d spend the rest of my life wishing I had.”
And this is her only shot. Brown’s program, RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is only 18 months. Completing her BSN and getting a Clemson degree knocks one thing off her bucket list. Being in Tiger Band — that’s two. And when she flew with the band to Syracuse — her first time in an airplane — well, that’s number three.
“My husband says I’ll find something else to do, but I don’t know how to top this,” said Brown, a lifelong Tiger fan.
For now, she can focus on her dream and know that she’s blending in just fine.
Band Director Mark Spede happened to pass Brown in the hallway on one of the first days of band camp. At first, he thought she was a parent, but a quick look through his picture roster told him otherwise.
“I was just completely blown away,” he said. “If I hadn’t seen her in the hallway that day, I don’t know that I would have noticed her. From the tower, she’s just one of the kids in the band. She doesn’t stand out, which means she’s doing everything right.”
Outside the band, Brown works 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. three days a week plus a 12-hour day on Thursdays, attends class all day on Tuesdays, is married and has two kids in high school.
“You just have to be disciplined to make it all work,” she said. “I always have everything I need with me. And I have changing clothes down to a science.”
While this type of load might seem overwhelming to most people, Brown’s professor Sheri Webster isn’t surprised she can handle it.
“Nurses have a mindset that we can pretty much do anything,” Webster said. “We’re tenacious. And I am so, so proud of Jeannie.”
While the soft-spoken Brown has children not much younger than her fellow Tiger Band members, she has found her place, as improbable as it might seem.
“From day one the kids have been fabulous,” she said. “It has been great; everyone has been so accepting of me.”
While her run as a Tiger Band member will end at the end of the football season, it’s a season of life that Brown will never ever forget. Look for her at the next home game — she’s the clarinet player in the Tiger Band uniform.