Yale's pep band had to miss the NCAA tournament. University of Idaho said, 'We got you.'

In an act of true sportsmanship, the Vandal band learned Yale's fight song, wore their gear and cheered them on.

Courtesy of University of Idaho

The Idaho Vandals answered the call when Yale needed a pep band.

Yale University and the University of Idaho could not be more different. Ivy League vs. state school. East Coast vs. Pacific Northwest. City vs. farm town. But in the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, extenuating circumstances brought them together as one, with the Bulldogs and the Vandals becoming the "Vandogs" for a weekend.

When Yale made it to the March Madness tournament, members of the school's pep band had already committed to other travel plans during spring break. They couldn't gather enough members to make the trek across the country to Spokane, Washington, so the Yale Bulldogs were left without their fight song unless other arrangements could be made.

When University of Idaho athletic band director Spencer Martin got wind of the need less than a week before Yale's game against Auburn, he sent out a message to his band members asking if anyone would be interested in stepping in. The response was a wave of immediate yeses, so Martin got to work arranging instruments and the students dedicated themselves to learning Yale's fight song and other traditional Yale pep songs.

Idaho band members even reached out to Yale band members via social media to get tips and asked the spirit squad for suggestions for making their "Vandogs" performance the best it could be. Yale also sent spirit gear with the big yellow Y for Yale for them to wear.

University of Idaho band members filling in for Yale

The Idaho Vandals called themselves the "Vandogs" for two NCAA tournament games.

Courtesy of University of Idaho

“Everyone was really enthusiastic about covering for the Yale students who couldn’t make it,” Martin told the Yale Daily News. “Universities help universities, and bands help bands.”

That genuine act of sportsmanship and camaraderie touched people across the nation, much to the delight of the students.

“'Look Mom, I’m on ESPN,’” Martin told The Spokesman-Review, quoting his students. “You’re a farm kid in the middle of a farm town. How often do you get that? Never.”

And people loved seeing it as well.

"Kudos to the University of Idaho band! Band kids are the greatest!" wrote one commenter.

"Awesome job Idaho..this is a perfect example of true sportsmanship!!" shared another.

"This is such a great show of collegiate athletics and why they are important! Well done!👍" shared another.

It's hard not to catch the energy of the tournament, as the Vandogs found out.

"It was awesome watching them play," Idaho grad student Cody Barrick, who plays the tenor saxophone, told ESPN. "We were right on our feet with everyone else at the end there cheering them on for sure."

And as it turned out, the pep in Yale's step did seem to be extra "on" during that first game. The Bulldogs went into the tournament as an underdog, with #4 Auburn being their first competitor, but they pulled off a dramatic upset that moved them to the next round.

So not only did Idaho's band play for them that first Friday game, but they also drove the 90 miles to Spokane again the following Sunday night for Yale's second round game against San Diego State.

The Bulldogs were eliminated from the tournament in that game, but memories were made for life. And Martin says the Vandals would do it anytime, for any school, a testament to the program.

“If you choose the Vandal band, you know that it’s going to come through,” he told the Spokesman-Review. “It always has. That’s the tradition. There was no doubt that we would come through for them.”

This article originally appeared on 10.13.20

It's not every day that you see an NFL player sporting a jersey of a professional female athlete. In fact, if most of us wrack our brains, we probably can't think of any day that we've seen that.

So when Russell Wilson, longtime quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks (recently traded to the Denver Broncos), walked out of the locker room after last night's last-minute win against the Minnesota Vikings, people took notice of his shirt—a yellow and green jersey with the name and number of Sue Bird, the Seattle Storm WNBA superstar player. The Storm just took home their fourth WNBA National Championship title.

But that wasn't all he did.

In the post-game press conference, a reporter asked him how he felt on the last drive in which he led the team on a 94-yard drive in the final two minutes of the game, ultimately completing a pass to the end zone on 4th and 10 to win the game. "What's going through your head?" the reporter asked.

Wilson smiled, chuckled, and said, "I feel like Sue Bird in the clutch, you know?"

It was a simple sentence, but a meaningful one.

Paola Boivin, who was a sports writer for the Arizona Republic for 20 years and the first female journalist ever inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, shared what the moment meant to her on Twitter.

"Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson just said, 'I feel like Sue Bird in the clutch.' In my era following sports growing up, I never remember a male athlete saying something like this. It seems simplistic, but this is powerful."

In many fields, including professional sports, girls and women had to have male role models prior to doors being opened for women to excel on the public stage. Then, once women went through those doors and made a name for themselves, women had female role models to look up to. But it's been rare to see it go the other way—to see boys or men express personal admiration for a female excelling in her field. And especially in a professional sport like football, which is pretty much entirely male, to have a star like Russell Wilson point to a female athlete as an example of the excellence he aspired to is, indeed, noteworthy at this stage of the game.

Someday, it won't be. Excellence knows no gender, and it's only outdated thinking and outdated ideas of manhood and masculinity that keep people locked in boxes of who our role models can be and how our fandom can be expressed. Russell Wilson is clearly a fan of Sue Bird, as is any Seattle resident who pays any attention to sports whatsoever. But he also clearly sees her as an athletic role model, and it's just awesome to see him express that so openly.

Wilson's sister plays basketball at Stanford, and he has been an outspoken supporter of women's sports in general. Here's a video of him from February sharing his and his wife Ciara's support on National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

Love to see it. The more we all support one another, the better the chances that all of us will excel. Thanks for setting the example, Russell Wilson.

The Rich sisters have a unique history with the coach of their high school basketball team.

The Rich sisters are unusual for their shared basketball skills. All four of them—senior Mackenzie, junior Courtney, sophomore Avery and eighth-grader Dakota—play for the top-ranked New London-Spicer High School basketball team in New London, Minnesota. But according to a report by KARE 11, the fact that four sisters all play for the same high school team at the same time isn't the most interesting part of their story.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the state and are coached by Mike Dreier, who has been coaching the team for 43 seasons. One of the reasons Coach Dreier has been there for so long? The Rich girls' dad, Earl.

Earl Rich attended New London-Spicer High School himself and played sports, like his daughters. He was also a foster kid who caught the eye and heart of caring coach Mike Dreier.

Earl's mother became unable to care for him due to illness when he was in second grade. His biological father wasn't in the picture, and Earl ended up living in five different foster homes.

When Dreier found out that Earl was going to be transferred to a different school his sophomore year because his fifth foster family was giving him up, the coach made a quick decision.

“I was in the lunchroom one day,” Dreier told KARE, “and the music teacher was saying, ‘Aww, Earl's gonna have to move to Willmar.’ Listened to him and I said, ‘Well he can come live with me.’”

Earl knew Dreier, having been coached by him in seventh grade football, but he was still shocked to find out he was offering to take him in.

But they got the paperwork completed, and Earl lived with Dreier from his sophomore year until he graduated high school. What's more, Dreier served as a father figure for Earl—something he hadn't experienced up until then.

“I never spent three years at one place,” Earl says. “He just gave me every aspect of a dad that I never had.”

Earl went off to college at Southwest Minnesota State University, where he played football and baseball. Then he returned to New London to start his own real estate business.

Dreier, now 69, had planned to stop coaching by now, but Earl implored him to stick around so that he could coach his daughters.

“You gotta keep coaching, you've got to coach my kids,” Dreier recalls Earl saying. “I just said, ‘I can't. I don't think I'll be hanging on that long, Earl.'”

Earl told his girls, “If there's any coach I want you to play for, it would be him.”

Dreier decided to stick it out. Now, he coaches the four daughters of the man he helped raise through his teen years. And his team, with the four Rich girls playing on it, is undefeated.

Not a bad legacy to leave on all fronts, Coach Dreier.

Utah Jazz dancer Danielle Bush got the surprise of her life when her fellow dancers started doing a totally different routine.

It's a dancer's worst nightmare. You're in the middle of a performance you've rehearsed over and over when all of a sudden you forget what you're doing. Everyone else is in sync, and you're hopelessly out of step, trying desperately to not make it obvious that you're completely lost.

That's sort of what happened to Utah Jazz dancer Danielle Bush earlier this week during a basketball half-time performance. Bush didn't forget the routine, though—it just suddenly changed on her in the middle of it. The song, the routine, all of it. To her credit, Bush rallied, smiled and did her best to improvise, but it was clear she was lost. For a torturous 20 seconds, she tried to keep up—and then she figured out what was really going on.

What started out as a nightmare turned into a heartwarming surprise that the rest of her fellow dancers were in on.


How can a video be so painful to watch and yet end up with such a happy ending? The poor girl was so confused until she actually heard what the song had been changed to—Bruno Mars' "Marry You"—and realized it had to have been changed for her.

According to KSL News, the proposal had been planned in secret since earlier in the month. Bush's boyfriend (now fiance) Brandon had asked Jazz Dancers director Ashley Kelson if it were possible to pop the question on the court.

"I wanted to make it big and special for her for sure," Kelson told the outlet. "Making it a part of the routine was so much fun."

Kelson scheduled Bush to be at a community event during a rehearsal where the other dancers learned the alternate routine. The team only had one practice to rehearse the proposal, and they pulled it off beautifully.

"It was an honor to plan with Brandon and be a part of their special moment and just proud of my team for keeping it a surprise," Kelson said. "It definitely was a team effort."

And it was definitely a proposal to remember. Congratulations, Danielle and Brandon!