When the #1-seeded Villanova men’s basketball team was shockingly upset by North Carolina State in its second game of the NCAA March Madness tournament, the television broadcast showed Villanova Pep Band piccolo player Roxanne Chalifoux crying while playing. The image quickly went viral as #FluteGirl (and later #PiccoloGirl as angry musicians corrected the mistake). The surprised senior biology major caused such an Internet sensation that she was invited to appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Halftime: What exactly do you think it was that made you cry?
Chalifoux: It was obviously disappointing to see [the team] upset about the loss, especially the seniors. Seeing them realize that their senior years with Villanova were over and then kind of realizing that my own senior year was over with the pep band too, it just made me realize how lucky I was to have been in the Villanova pep band for four years and how much I was really going to miss it.
Halftime: How did you first learn about being on TV?
Chalifoux: I knew I was on the jumbotron, but I didn’t realize that that was connected to national television. And truly right after [the game ended], my phone died, and I went out to dinner with my dad. When I got back to the band hotel two hours later, I charged my phone and had so many texts … but I still didn’t really know what happened. And then when I did go on Twitter, I could not believe that my face was all over it.
Halftime: What did you think of people who called you #FluteGirl v. #PiccoloGirl and the ensuing outrage?
Chalifoux: I knew it started out as #FluteGirl, and I wasn’t really going to correct anyone. I think it’s cool that people came to the piccolo’s defense and stood up for an instrument that is probably overlooked, but I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it.
Halftime: How did you find out about The Tonight Show? What was it like performing with the Roots?
Chalifoux: The show contacted the school while I was actually doing something for a local news station. Next thing I know, we were buying our train tickets and heading up to New York. Their instrumentation doesn’t really go with a piccolo, so they were willing to let me sit in and play a song that they didn’t know, for me. They were so kind and so welcoming and made me feel like I could be really confident when it was finally time to film.
Halftime: Do you think that band members should have to hold in their emotions while performing?
Chalifoux: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting your emotions out. As a sports fan in general, if your team does really well, you should be able to get up and scream for them, and if your team loses, you cry a little bit. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
By Elizabeth Geli
Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC