By Sarah Watson
Dating back to the late 1880s, all of the recognized Hawkeye Marching Band drum majors were male — until now.
Analisa Iole was introduced to thunderous applause on Sept. 23 football game against Penn State as the new 2017-18 drum major and the first female drum major in the modern history for the Hawkeye Marching Band.
The only time a woman has held this position was during World War II, and there is no record of her name.
At the game, Iole co-performed with previous drum major Isaac Anderson, who had held the role since 2015. This year, Anderson enlisted into the U.S. Army.
Unsure of when he would be called for duty, the directors named Iole as the backup drum major for the 2017 season and the full-time drum major for fall 2018 after holding auditions in the spring. Anderson left for Army basic training in Fort Benning on Sept. 23 after his last performance.
In the Big Ten, four of the other schools have at least one female drum major. “I’ve always emphasized that our tradition does not have to be a male that serves as drum major, but there are just more males who audition than females,” Marching Band Director Kevin Kastens said. “Analisa was the best prepared this year and took the top position.”
“It’s very cool to have a position that’s mostly held by men,” Iole said. “One of my friends mentioned to me, ‘Oh, you’re going to be a really huge role model to little girls’… and I think it’s awesome I’m able to do that.”
On the field, the Hawkeye drum major can be spotted in an all-white costume leading the Marching Band on the field and carrying a mace. During the pregame and halftime shows, the drum major twirls the nearly 5-foot-long baton, shaped with a decorative round head on one end.
Traditionally, the drum major will lift the Golden Girl onto their shoulders during pregame, and despite questions raised, Iole said she didn’t think the feat would be a problem for her.
“A lot of people asked me that, like, ‘You’re a woman in this position, do you think you’re going to be able to lift the Golden Girl?’ ” Iole said. “The answer is yes, because we’ve been working on it.”
Behind the scenes, the drum major teaches the band marching fundamentals at the weeklong band camp before school starts, leads practices, and directs the band during warm-ups.
“When we found out we needed to audition last spring, she was one of the first people I went to because I knew she wanted that position already and she was very, very qualified,” Anderson said. “She’s very dedicated, and she’ll bring her own individual flair to the role.”
This summer, Iole attended a drum-major camp, where she was awarded Drum Major First Class in Mace status.
The new clarinet section leader, Devan Cummings, who worked closely with Iole, said she couldn’t think of a better candidate for the job.
“Analisa is easily one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and she’s a great leader,” Cummings said. “I’ve worked with her in undergraduate staff in Marching Band, and she’s really good at personalizing her teaching based on everyone’s needs.”