I've been in the 97 for two years now, so I can try to tell you as much as I can about it. I started as a freshman with the alto sax, but now that I am on co-op this fall, I've had to take a break from it - I plan to continue with events next semester and later during my senior year.
The Marching 97 is totally student run. It's not at all extremely serious or overly competitive. We have a lot of fun with each other and we're a beloved tradition on Lehigh's campus. We are the de facto source of Lehigh pride and school spirit.
Band is a one credit course - you get an A if you show up to every practice and event, so it's a great GPA booster. The schedule is a decent commitment, but not as much as some other university bands.
Our mandatory events include every Lehigh football home game, at least one away game (we have gone to Princeton a few times), and the Lehigh-Lafayette game no matter which campus the game is played on. We have completely optional travel events like playing in small groups at away games (called "flames") or for other events on campus like orientiation and prospective student events.
We practice two times a week on Tuesday and Thursday from 4-6pm. If we have a football game on Saturday, we also have practice on Friday from 4-6pm. Usually, we have to meet around 8-9am for the actual game on Saturday and we're done at around 2-3pm. For every practice and game, we meet up on Asa Packer campus, and upperclassmen drive everybody over the mountain to Goodman (our athletic campus) for practice. Practice is usually split between going through show music and stands tunes and going through the actual marching for the show. After practice, we all catch rides with each other back to Packer campus and we eat dinner together.
We march in the Big 10 style - your foot comes off the ground and you lift your leg such that your thigh is parallel to the ground. It's a sharp-looking march. Even if you have no experience (like I did) it is still easy to learn and can be a lot of fun. It never feals overly serious or competitive. We have a good time entertaining students and alumni at games, and overall it is been a great experience for me.
If you have more questions, check out the website (Marching97.org
) and look at our videos. You should email our freshman managers (the Refrosh and Refritch) about joining up. They'll help you get set up.