EAST LANSING – Darquin Malone has two passions: music and football.
He’ll get to do both, together, for the last time on tonight when East Lansing hosts Okemos in its regular-season finale.
“I go to football practice every day and we have marching band rehearsal on Wednesdays after football practice,” said Malone, who pulls double-duty Friday nights by playing on the Trojans’ football team and performing with the marching band at halftime. “Band never really gets in the way of football.”
Every home game, with about a minute remaining in the second quarter, Malone takes off his shoulder pads, cleats and helmet. And in his No. 20 jersey and football pants, he grabs his snare drum and waits for halftime to begin.
He then proceeds to play with his “other team.”
“My band director said he was cool with it and that he had someone do it before,” Malone said. “He talked to my football coach about it and he was cool with it.
“The crowd was kind of excited when they saw me go out there in my jersey (for the first time).”
In most instances, Malone, who mainly plays on special teams, isn’t able to be in the locker room at halftime. By the time he is done performing and puts his drum back on its stand, his football teammates are usually on their way back out on the field to prep for the second half.
Which, on some nights, is something he doesn’t mind.
“I’m pretty sure when coach (Bill Feraco) is mad, I wouldn’t want to be a part of getting yelled at,” he said jokingly.
The Trojan coaches encourage their players to be involved in more than one high school activity. Too often in today’s world, kids focus on achieving a single endeavor, and Feraco and his coaching staff want players to broaden their interests and take advantage of all resources.
“Coach Feraco really believes you should do more than one sport or thing,” East Lansing running backs coach Javier Lara said. “Darquin does a lot for us. He works hard.
“Nowadays, kids specialize in one thing and that kind of hurts you a little bit. You don’t get to experience other things. We’ve had another football player take part in school musicals and drama and he would have to do workouts on a different schedule than everyone else. To be able to experience (multiple activities), it does get missed a little.”
When push comes to shove, marching band usually takes a backseat for Malone. He’s missed a few drum line sectionals this season because of football and he often has to catch up on learning some of the music and formations. However, East Lansing band director Dave Larzelere has been impressed with Malone’s juggling act.
Larzelere had several football players perform with the marching band during his time at Waverly High School, but in his six years at East Lansing, Malone is the only player who has shown interest.
“As far as the commitment out of school, he’s at every football practice and most band practices,” Larzelere said. “He’s done a good job of balancing both of them. He misses rehearsal more than the average person, but he catches on fairly quick. We have marching band class and he’s in that.
“I have a lot of kids who do band and fall sports, but the only difference is the Friday night thing.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.