John and Annie Glenn to dot the "i"

The former senator and astronaut and his wife will become part of Script Ohio at the season opener against Navy

John Glenn will be joined by his wife, Annie, when he takes the field with the Ohio State University Marching Band on Sept. 5. Both Glenns will dot one “i” in the Script Ohio formation during halftime of the football season opener against Navy.

A longstanding tradition among the band, dotting the “i” is an honor extended only rarely to non-band members.

“People are chosen with the accomplishments that they have made in their life,” band director Jon R. Woods said of the honorary “i-dotters.”

“We all recognize what John Glenn has done,” he said, citing the former U.S. senator’s accomplishments with the U.S. space program and his contributions to Ohio. “He’s a very logical person at this time to choose.”
Wood confirmed last week that Annie Glenn also has accepted an invitation to march with the band.

The honor is the second major recognition John Glenn has received from the university in the last three months. In June, the 88-year-old namesake of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs delivered Ohio State’s spring commencement address.

The i-dotting tradition dates back to the creation of the Script Ohio formation in the 1930s. Normally performed by a sousaphone player, dotting the “i” in Ohio is the final movement of the formation and a crowd favorite, naturally spotlighting the i-dotter.

“It can be years between appearances,” Woods said of honorary i-dotters, who in the past have included Bob Hope, heavyweight champion Buster Douglas, and OSU presidents and staff. “We are very careful about our selections because the i-dotting is a tradition within the marching band sousaphone section.”

Each performance of the Script Ohio during a season is carefully scheduled so all senior sousaphone players have a chance to dot the “i.” Woods said players as young as seventh or eighth grade have set their sights on Ohio State because of the tradition.

As a testament to the exceptional nature of honorary i-dotters, the last non-band member to dot the “i” was golf legend and Ohio State alumnus Jack Nicklaus in 2006.

Even rarer is the appearance of an honorary i-dotter during an Alumni Band Day performance, which is the honor awaiting the Glenns. The last non-band member to join both the student and alumni marching bands on the field was OSU President Gordon Gee during his first tenure as president more than a decade ago.

When honorary i-dotters are chosen, Woods said, couples often march together. The wives of both Nicklaus and Gee were invited to participate in the show with their husbands.

The band’s Board of Governors voted unanimously this year to ask John Glenn to dot the “i” with the alumni band during a formation of four Script Ohios. The Glenns will march on the west side of the field near the press boxes.

The Sept. 5 game against Navy also marks the OSU Athletic Department’s Military Appreciation Day, making Glenn’s appearance even more fitting, Woods said. Glenn served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean War.

Game day will begin with an 8:30 a.m. practice with both bands on the Lincoln Tower practice field, Woods said. A dress rehearsal will follow during the 10 a.m. skull session at St. John Arena, where the Glenns will be presented with band memorabilia including band blazers, jackets from the alumni band and plaques commemorating the occasion. This also will be the last i-dotting rehearsal for the Glenns before game time.

“It’s going to be packed,” Woods said, noting that the band hopes to have the Navy drum corps participate in the skull session.

Kickoff for the football game is at noon.

OSU band
Script Ohio was first performed by The Ohio State Marching Band on October 10, 1936 when Ohio State played the University of Pittsburgh.

And the winner is...

If you came by the Glenn School's mini-tailgate party before the OSU/Navy game, you would have had a chance to enter a raffle to win an autographed photo of Senator Glenn. Jenny Brodie of Columbus was our winner.

CBS's The Early Show mentions John Glenn dotting the "i"

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To be one of the select non-band members to have the honor of dotting the "i" is considered the greatest honor the band can bestow and is an extremely rare event. The Sousaphone player selected to dot the "i" for that specific game must give up their spot in order for an honorary member to dot the "i".

Other honorary "i"-dotters have been:

John and Annie Glenn dotted the "i" and the Glenn School celebrated.

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