Northwestern University


NUMB Traditions

The Northwestern University ‘Wildcat’ Marching Band, or NUMB, is comprised of 143 members: 104 wind instruments, 26 percussion, 10 color-guard, a feature twirler and two drum majors. The band has been fronted by the colors of all Big Ten Conference universities since 1948.

Under student leadership, the first University marching band at Northwestern was organized in 1911 to play at football games. The band struggled to maintain its numbers until 1926, when they were officially placed under the supervision of the School of Music. The original marching band was comprised only of men. Women were temporarily accepted from 1942-45 since most of the male students had left school to fight in the war. Women were then permanently invited to join the band in 1972.

NUMB traditionally enters the gridiron, lead by the percussion “Salsation Cadence,” and followed by the rest of the band exploding onto the field with the enthusiastic “Wildcat Growl.” NUMB is known for their outstanding a capella version of the Alma Mater, which is sung in four part harmony, and is performed during halftime and post game. Signature moves of the band include the “Sculpted N,” which became a tradition in the early 1980s following the University’s adoption of a new logo.

In the 1960s, the SpiriTeam was created to raise the spirits of the band throughout the game, no matter the score. The team consists of two members: The “Spirit Leader” and the “Grynder.” The Spirit Leader is traditionally elected by the band, and is responsible for leading the band and surrounding fans in cheers. The Spirit Leader wears a black aviator-style cloth helmet that has been passed down from the beginning, and is believed to have belonged to a UN football player who had served in WWII. The Grynder is essentially the Spirit Leader’s assistant, and wears a button-festooned black felt hat originally bought at the Wildcat’s first Rose Bowl in 1949. The Grynder is chosen by his or her predecessor, and has a unique task of leading the band in a post-halftime Wildcat “growl.”

Despite the lows of the football team over the years, NUMB remains a highly spirited, entertaining and loyal organization to Northwestern Athletics. Their mantra, “Pride and Guts,” shines through in every situation: pride in their team, school and themselves, and the guts to strive for perfection every step of the way.

NUMB rehearses Friday evening before a home game from 4pm-6pm on Long Field, located at the north west corner of Sheridan Rd. & Lincoln (North edge of campus). Bring your own chair and enjoy the show as NUMB prepares for game day!

Pre-Game Video

NUMB Pregame Show 2011