LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Zach Diamond has reached new heights after transitioning from Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus to University Park following the 2+2 plan, having earned a spot in the Blue Band.
From Penn State Fayette to University Park
While some students choose to spend all four years at one campus, others spend their first two years at one location and finish their Penn State degree at another. It’s known as the 2+2 plan, and it’s something Diamond, a physics major from Smithfield, smartly used to his advantage.
Diamond has a strong understanding of Penn State Fayette, having served as a senator in the Student Government Association, raised funds for pediatric cancer with THON, and founded The Eberly Music Performance Organization (TEMPO). He reflects positively on his experience, saying “Penn State Fayette eased me into the transition to University Park.”
Joining the Blue Band
Diamond's sights had been set on the University for a while. He recalled visiting a Penn State football game in high school, where he was impressed by the Blue Band and the energy of 100,000 cheering fans.
"It made me want to be a part of that organization," he said.
As Diamond prepared for the audition, he couldn’t help but feel nervous.
The Blue Band is one of the largest marching bands in the country and has a rigorous audition process for new members. Students typically need to demonstrate their musical skills, marching ability, and knowledge of the University's traditions.
Despite his demonstrated musical talent at Penn State Fayette, the thought of auditioning for the Blue Band made Diamond's heart race. He waited with bated breath for an email, hoping it would congratulate him on moving forward to the next step. When it finally arrived, he ran out to show his mom — his dad was out of town and would have to wait until later.
"It was one of the most heartwarming experiences I've ever had with my parents," said Diamond, who celebrated the news with a night out to dinner. "My dad is a Penn State alum and loved watching the Blue Band at the football games. Knowing that I had a chance to be a part of that organization, too, was a huge moment for him."
The opportunity to join the Blue Band was a defining moment for Diamond. He credits his involvement in TEMPO for reigniting his passion for playing the trumpet and preparing him for the audition process.
"If I wasn’t for that, I'm not sure I would have made it past the first round of auditions," he said.
He took a steadying breath and prepared himself. Making it past the marching tryouts was his next step to becoming a full-fledged member.
Round two of auditions was described by Diamond as a marathon of stress, with the pressure intensifying by the third day as recruiters closely monitored his every move. Despite feeling exhausted, he remained resolute and committed to finishing strong.
As the audition came to a close, all participants eagerly awaited the results. Officials announced the names of those selected, and Diamond felt a mix of nerves and excitement as he listened closely. Finally, he heard his name called, and a wave of relief washed over him.
"When I heard 'Diamond,' I teared up," he said. "It was a stressful, but fun, experience."
Marching across the field
Since then, Diamond has performed at football games, parades and community events, all representing the University and showcasing his musical talent.
He marched trumpet in hand during All-University Day with the same organization that inspired him years ago. He remembers walking out from the tunnel underneath the stadium, students cheering him and his fellow band members on as they marched onto the field with thunderous applause as everyone came together to celebrate the spirit of Penn State.
“There were butterflies in my stomach. Doing this in high school was fun in front of a small crowd, but there were over 100,000 people here,” Diamond said.
“There were butterflies in my stomach. Doing this in high school was fun in front of a small crowd, but there were over 100,000 people here.”
—Zach Diamond , Blue Band member and physics major
But he excelled under the pressure and was even lucky enough to be part of a group called The Travelling Trumpets — an exciting opportunity, as his family had purchased season football tickets and he was able to perform in front of them. He recalled the experience with a sense of accomplishment and heartwarming satisfaction, remembering the proud look on his father’s face.
The Rose Bowl
It’s impossible to talk about Diamond’s journey without mentioning his march in the Rose Bowl, where he and the Blue Band performed along a more than 5 mile parade route that took three hours to complete.
The Rose Bowl, located in Pasadena, California, is considered one of the most prestigious college football games. It typically features two highly ranked teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences and attracts a large television audience and hundreds of thousands of fans to the stadium.
Diamond reflected on the parade and how difficult it was to comprehend the magnitude of the event. He was honored to be a part of the Blue Band and to perform in front of such a large audience as a part of one of the biggest events in college football.
"It was an experience from beginning to end,” he said. “There’s no way to describe it other than breathtaking. I would do it all again.”
Throughout his journey, Diamond has remained grateful for the support of his parents, friends and colleagues. His perseverance and commitment to music have resulted in an unforgettable college experience and a lifelong connection to Penn State.