San Diego State University: Marching into a New Era at Snapdragon Stadium

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Each year, Richard Schamp comes in two weeks before classes begin for band camp. He rehearses trumpet music and formations on practice turf fields across campus in preparation for a busy fall semester of football halftime shows and university events.

Schamp is a San Diego State University civil engineering senior and lead for the Marching Aztecs’ 27-member trumpet section. With Aztec football’s opening game on Saturday, the SDSU community is abuzz with excitement.

After marching with the Golden Regiment at San Diego’s Serra (now Canyon Hills) High School, it’s Schamp’s sixth season with the Marching Aztecs. But this one is different.

Over several years, he put in the time and work as a musician and full-time student, enrolling in both the MUSIC 175 and MUSIC 375 Marching Band courses while perfecting his trumpet and leadership skills.

He’s now celebrating his final academic year — and getting to play at the brand new Snapdragon Stadium in SDSU Mission Valley.

Old and the New

Schamp started his undergraduate career at SDSU in 2016 when home games were still played at Qualcomm Stadium.

The former NFL facility brought many positive memories, as did the one-year stint of the Marching Aztecs shuttling to and from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson for home games as Snapdragon was being built. “It was a -12-hour commitment,” Schamp said of the charter bus drives to the home games.

Now that Snapdragon is ready for use, old and new memories will come together in beautiful harmony.

Schamp says it’s an exciting new venue for music. They’ll be both in the stands and on Bashor Field performing throughout the season.

Last Saturday, the Marching Aztecs got a taste of performing at Snapdragon for the first time during a scrimmage and soft open.

“It was cool to see people in the audience watching the football teams play,” said Schamp. “It felt so good to be back in the stands again, playing music and just having that atmosphere back.”

Schamp also said it’s an exciting new opportunity for acoustics for the Marching Aztecs.

“It sounds different; the way that the seats are placed in the stadium, the sound bouncing off them gives a really nice echo,” said Schamp.“It almost sounds like they intentionally designed it so the sound bounces out of the stadium and then echoes throughout the valley that it’s placed in.”

Engineering Aztec

Having entered the fall semester just last week, Schamp said his engineering and band lives are two very different parts of his world, but both allow him an outlet to be himself.

“When I’m marching and playing with friends, it’s a much-needed break from my engineering classes and the work that I do in my major,” said Schamp. “It’s a release of energy for me.”

Schamp’s two worlds do collide, though, like in his favorite class, Surveying with professor Bruce Urquhart. Urquhart coincidentally took engineering students last September on a field trip to Snapdragon Stadium’s construction site, hosted by Clark Construction Group. The tour was guided by Aztec alumni and Clark Project Executive, Matt Gerard, and his team of SDSU graduate construction engineers, Jose Muguerza (‘17) and Juan Perez (’20).

With a passion for transportation engineering, the commuter student is currently interning at Linscott, Law, & Greenspan, a firm that does design planning work for smaller-scale projects. He looks forward to earning his Engineering in Training (EIT) certification and hopes to stay at the company post-grad.

Marching Aztec

In the closer future, though, Schamp looks forward to performing with the Marching Aztecs at Snapdragon. Schamp’s favorite song this season, War, is played in between plays during football games, and heavily features trumpets. “We play it after the very first kickoff of every game,” said Schamp.

Bryan Ransom, who Schamp calls an “incredible” coach, wrote the arrangement from an original recording.

“The entire Marching Aztecs organization is excited about performing this fall in support of Aztec Football in Snapdragon Stadium,” said Ransom, director of athletic bands. “From Band first-years who will be experiencing an Aztec game in uniform for the first time to those like me who have been longing for this moment for 34 years, the excitement level is off the charts.”

As for band camp, Schamp says all in the “incredibly strong” Marching Aztec community have been coming together as a section to make this season one to remember.

“It’s been really fun to see it come together over the past two weeks so far and watch everyone’s friendships grow and watch everything develop and improve,” said Schamp.

One thing’s for sure, says Ransom: everyone’s pumped for September 3.

“We can’t wait. Let’s GO!”

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