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 is your background with flute, piccolo and marching band?
Chalifoux: I wanted to play the flute because my mom and aunt had played when they were younger. I switched to piccolo when I joined the non-competitive Peters Township High School marching band in McMurray, Pennsylvania. I’m not really in a marching band anymore, Villanova doesn’t have one, it’s a “scramble band.” I’m the drum major for that actually. I only play piccolo in the pep band. It’s been a really fun opportunity to be able to go to the basketball games and cheer on the team.
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 kind of messages did you get?
Chalifoux: I got a lot of supportive messages, definitely from the Villanova community, from old friends and family members and a lot of people that I don’t know at all—pep bands and fans all around the country. NC State beat us, but even their fans were reaching out and saying nice things to me. I’m sure there was negativity out there, but I luckily didn’t see [much of it]. I was just really grateful for all of the really nice things that people were saying to me.
Halftime: When you realized that this had gone viral, were you upset?
Chalifoux: That was something that I was confused about. I didn’t really see anything about the incident that was a big deal in my opinion. At first I was a little upset, more like embarrassed, because I didn’t realize that everyone was going to see it. It was a really kind of vulnerable moment. Then I realized as I was being reached out to by newspapers and TV news channels that I was just going to have to make this a really good experience … because there really wasn’t anything I could do about it at that point.
Halftime: What was it like meeting Jimmy Fallon?
Chalifoux: I kind of just accidentally ran into him backstage in one of the hallways, and I couldn’t even barely talk because it was so unexpected. He was unbelievable. He was so nice and so welcoming. He really made me feel like I should be there, and everything was going to be OK, and I could make a memory that would truly last a lifetime. [The gift basket] was really kind! I had no idea that I was getting Taylor Swift tickets. My roommates and I ate the ice cream; we all wore the t-shirts. I definitely didn’t anticipate getting presents for being on the Tonight Show.
Halftime: Do you consider yourself someone who cries pretty easily, or was this rare for you?
Chalifoux: That probably would depend on the event. I’m just not one to hide what I’m feeling … I think a lot of people [in bands or in student sections] end up crying because you just realize it’s sort of the end of an era. It’s a pretty normal reaction, I think.
By Elizabeth Geli
Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC