Local Ohio State band alum will dot the ‘i’ again — 30 years later

Updated Sept 21, 2018
West Carrollton High School grad Darren Montgomery dotted the “i” in Script Ohio as a member of the Ohio State University Marching Band in 1988. CONTRIBUTED

Darren Montgomery said he quit playing trumpet his last year at West Carrollton High School for one reason.

“My senior year I switched to tuba so I could go to Ohio State and dot the ‘i’ in Script Ohio,” the 52-year-old Miami Twp. native said.

Montgomery achieved that goal as an OSU senior in 1988. Tomorrow, the Miamisburg resident will get to do again with the Ohio State Alumni Marching Band in what he called “a tremendous honor.”

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Among OSU marching band members, only fourth- or fifth-year players of the sousaphone — “a tuba you wear,” Montgomery said — are eligible to dot the “i.” On rare occasions, the honor has been granted to famous non-band members with Ohio State ties, including Bob Hope, John Glenn and Jack Nicklaus.

None of those three got to do it twice. And “you get one shot at dotting an alumni ‘i,’” said Sara Lawhon, reunion chair of the alumni marching band.

Montgomery’s chance will come Sept. 22 at Ohio Stadium when the Buckeyes host Tulane for Homecoming. His first performance in punctuating the signature ceremony at OSU football games was Oct. 1, 1988 as a 22-year-old senior.

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“It is a very good deal for them as student. They get to do it one, maybe — maybe — two times,” said Lawhon, a trumpet player.

“The whole point of alumni band is for us to do it one more time,” she said of Script Ohio “And for them, getting to dot the ‘i,’ I think that’s an extra unique thing that they get to do just one more time.”

Montgomery memorialized the 1988 event by getting a tattoo featuring a scarlet script “Ohio” with a sousaphone player above the “i” on his lower leg. Below the script “Ohio” is “10-1-88” in black ink, referencing the date of his performance.

As special as that day was, he said next month’s moment will have extra significance.

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“I’m thrilled that my kids are both students at Ohio State now and they get to see that,” he said. “The fact that they get to be a part of this just makes me very happy – it’s thrilling.”

Both of his kids were in the Miamisburg marching band, and he served as president of the Miamisburg band boosters for several years.

Montgomery said he found out about this year’s selection about three weeks ago from the OSU Marching Band Alumni’s Board of Governors. The alumni marching band will have three Script Ohio performances this year, Lawhon said.

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Between now and Sept. 22, Montgomery said he plans to brush up on his skills — playing and marching — at Miamisburg High School’s Holland Field. While he’ll be among about 1,000 current and alumni band members on the Ohio Stadium turf next month, Montgomery said the butterflies have already started.

“I’m nervous,” he said.