First Female, Hispanic Drum Major At Notre Dame From El Paso

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 6:51pm

EL PASO- With both Miami and Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl also come two marching bands. One El Paso native could probably jump on the field on conduct them herself. Reporter Matt Rivers has more on a unique El Paso to South Bend connection.

She's a first on two fronts. Thirty years ago, Linda Lawson became Notre Dame's first woman and first Hispanic drum major in the school's history.

Three decades later, she told us her story.

Fans snapped photos of her because Linda Lawson, then just twenty years old, was different. She was the first woman to lead the vaunted Notre Dame Marching Band.

Just last year, hundreds of band members performed the theme to Hawaii 5-0, surfers included. The standard's been high for years, and Linda always wanted to be a part of it.

So she tried out and she got it, then the first woman leading all those trumpets, tubas, and trombones.

"To be the first female drum major was different. It was traditionally males," she told us.

The change got big press. Notre Dame didn't admit women to study until 1972, and with a woman leading the band less than a decade later, it turned some heads.

"I don't think I realized the significance of it until the press and until people started taking pictures and it started appearing in newspapers," Linda remarked.

Her first game was on national TV against Purdue. She looked like a confident college sophomore that day, but admits she was incredibly nervous.

"I needed to be a role model, I needed to do this right and so the responsibility of it kind of sunk in," she remembered.

But Linda nailed her routine and led the band all the way to the Sugar Bowl, where Notre Dame lost the national championship to Georgia.

"It was a wonderful experience, an experience that will stay with me forever. Here I am reliving it 30 years later," Linda said.

She's been working with the Sun Bowl for years, this year helping to find the band a hotel and a place to practice.

A list of times you can see the Notre Dame Marching Band in action is below:

Thursday, December 30

12:30-1:30 p.m. at Austin High School for practice

4:45 p.m. at the Pep Rally at the Arts Festival Plaza

6:00 p.m. at the Battle of the Bands at the Fan Fiesta

9:00 p.m. at the Block Party in Union Plaza

Friday, December 31

10:00 a.m. at the Notre Dame tailgate
 

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