COLUMBUS — When he made The Ohio State University Marching Band as an alternate his sophomore year, Ben Murawski wasn’t all that disappointed.
After all, he was cut as a freshman so earning the L14 position (last row and sousaphone spot) was huge.
“Being an alternate is just as exciting as making it as a regular,” the 2016 Beavercreek High School graduate said. “It’s a lot of hard work to make it into the band. The most important thing is making it into the band. Most will make it to the field.”
Murawski did just that, eventually earning regular status. And on Oct. 9 he will receive the best damn honor of being part of The Best Damn Band in the Land. He will dot the “i” during the pregame Script Ohio formation when the Buckeyes host Maryland, something only fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player and a few select non-band members get to do.
He is likely the first Beavercreek grad to dot the “i.”
“(There is) going to be incredible energy in the stadium,” Murawski said. “I’m expecting a lot of screaming. A lot of hype.”
Murawski actually graduated last year, but COVID shut down band season, giving the “i” dotters one more year if they wanted and remained enrolled in some capacity. Murawski is in the alumni continuing education program, paying per credit hour.
“I don’t think there were many doubts that we wouldn’t come back for another year,” he said. “We worked this far. What’s one more year to come back and live our dreams.”
Ironically, dotting the “i” wasn’t something Murawski grew up craving. It was the Beavercreek High School band that caught his attention when he was living in a neighborhood close to the stadium. He heard the band and his first and — at the time his only — goal was to march for Beavercreek.
But as a member of the BHS band, he attended the Buckeye Invitational, a high school band competition on campus, which whetted his appetite for the scarlet and gray. The OSU band also performs at the invitational.
“I saw Ohio State and got the idea that it was pretty cool to go for,” Murawski said.
It was an inauspicious start, being cut. But he persevered. His sophomore year Murawski’s first game was the Oklahoma game — the Baker Mayfield flag incident. He was able to march for a few other games through the challenge system — where alternates can go against a regular for their spot in a given week — and made it as a regular his junior year. He lost a challenge and was an alternate for the final two games but then challenged back and marched for the Big Ten championship game and the Rose Bowl.
In 2019 Murawski successfully defended three challenges. There were none last year and he was on the field for the Oregon game this season.
Murawski wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to get cut from the OSU band. But BHS assistant band director Marlyn Strickland isn’t the least bit shocked Murawski eventually became an “i dotter.”
”I was also a four-year member of TBDBITL, and as someone that has seen countless individuals get discouraged or give up following being cut from the band, I have always been extremely impressed with Ben’s determination and drive to earn his spot and become an i dotter,” he said. “I’m beyond excited to see all his hard work pay off at the Maryland thing.”
Hard work and lots of miles. The first couple years he tried out, Murawski would commute from Beavercreek to Columbus twice a week for summer sessions as he didn’t have an apartment on campus. His third year he had a local internship and again made the summer commute.
That type of effort is the norm for Murawski, according to Matt Frost, BHS band director.
“I have always appreciated his ‘never give up’ attitude,” Frost said. “During the summer months Ben would often be on our marching band practice field video taping himself working on the marching style they use at OSU so he could study it and improve. He just works really hard. Ben has always been the kind of student that was going to work hard even when a goal seemed out of reach. He and his best friend in sixth grade both played tuba and carried it to and from school more often than not. At the time it was pretty much bigger than him.”
Full disclosure: Murawski did get a chance to dot the “i” during a socially distanced double Script Ohio last year. But it’s not the same and he’s looking forward to what he will experience during his Maryland moment.
“I finally made it,” he said. “I’ll feel at peace with what I’ve done. It feels right.”
So did making the band the first time, even as an alternate.