Carson Lee, a 2018 graduate of Skyline, has made the Notre Dame "Band of the Fighting Irish" drum line and will be in the cymbal line.
When the Notre Dame “Band of the Fighting Irish” takes the field on Sept. 1, Bob and Kim Lee of Pratt are going to be very proud parents. Their son Carson Lee, who graduated from Skyline in May 2018, will be playing cymbals in the percussion section.
Carson, who is a first-year freshman at Notre Dame majoring in pre med, said when he found out he had made the drumline, it was hard to believe.
“I saw my name and I kind of freaked out. It was basically a dream come true,” Lee said.
Lee is one of nine cymbal players in the 35-member drumline. He was in a group of 22 that auditioned for the drumline. The entire band has around 400 members.
Bob Lee, Carson’s dad, said they found out Carson had made the line when audition results were posted at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18. Those selected for the band immediately went to check out their uniforms.
For Carson, he knew the list for the drumline would go up at 6p.m. and he was at the door to the band building at 6:05 p.m. He took a picture of the list so he could share it with his family and friends.
The process of getting in the band started earlier this year. Lee applied to the band back in May. He received music to work on for his audition that took place in late June. He practiced his audition material with his grandfather, Robert Lee, throughout the summer, Bob said.
Carson said while he practiced during the summer, he was excited, anxious and nervous. He spent a lot of time running through the music but with all his practice, he said he didn’t feel he knew the music as well as he should have.
After weeks of rehearsing, Lee and other auditioning students moved into the Notre Dame dorms on Aug. 15, two days before the rest of the incoming students.
Rehearsals started at 9 a.m. the next day. Without any preparation, they jumped right in and did a march-out through the campus to the practice field. Lee said it was a very big event on campus and there was a lot of cheering. It was exciting but it was very stressful.
The band rehearsed during a three-day band camp,refining marching skills, playing skills and march-out cadences. All this time, the corps band leaders watched and evaluated the drumline, posting their drumline selections when it was all over.
While Lee is most definitely a huge Notre Dame fan, exactly how that happened is a little unusual.
“Not real sure what Carson’s reason for wanting to go to Nortre Dame was. He had some cousins that were big fans, but somewhere around 3rd or 4th grade, he decided that’s where he wanted to go to school,” Bob said. “I just remember Kim (Lee’s wife and Carson’s mom) looking at me one day his freshman year of high school and she said, ‘This Notre Dame idea isn’t going away. We better get prepared for it.’ It’s just something that he has always wanted to do. And those cousins are extremely jealous now.”
Lee said when he was really young, he did watch Notre Dame with his cousins and that was what sparked his interest in going to school there. He made the decision he wanted to go to Notre Dame when he was in the eighth grade. He watched Notre Dame football whenever he could and did a lot of research about the school and the campus.
The band will play at all home football games and two away games. If the football team makes it to a bowl game, the band will also go along. The away games will be with Northwestern and Notre Dame will play Syracuse in Yankee Stadium as part of the Shamrock Series. In the Shamrock Series, Notre Dame picks one home football game a year and plays it at some other location not on campus. In 2018, they played Boston College in Fenway Park.
While Lee is excited about being in the band, he is still a full-time student at Notre Dame. He is a pre med major taking 20 credit hours this semester.
“So far, the first week has been very busy. It’s been a good week and I got a good start on my studies. After this first week, I’ll be able to balance my time as I need it,” Lee said.
Bob Lee was a band director at Pratt for 25 years before shifting to Skyline six years ago. His father and Carson’s grandfather, Robert Lee, was a band director for decades with most of that time at Haven.
At 173 years, the Notre Dame “Band of the Fighting Irish” is the oldest college marching band in the nation. This is also their 130th football season.