The Ohio State University at Newark

Konner Barr: Buckeye to the Core

November 9, 2022

Konner Barr holds his baton in front of his chest mid-performance with the Ohio State marching band at Ohio Stadium.

Drum major Konner Barr performs with The Ohio State University Marching Band on Oct. 12, 2018, in Ohio Stadium.

To say that Konner Barr is goal focused is an understatement. His life has been an object lesson in how focus and hard work can make dreams come true. When Ohio Stadium celebrates its 100th anniversary this fall, Barr will be looking back at his college days in the ‘Shoe with pride, and maybe a bit of longing.

Being a Buckeye — and a drum major — was his dream from the age of four. He had seen the band on TV Saturday after Saturday. Then he watched his cousin practice his high school drum major moves. Right then, Barr picked up a stick and began to twirl it. His destiny was set.

“My mom said I knew Script Ohio before I could write my name,” he remembers.

Within a couple of years, the Gahanna native was attending band sessions on the Columbus campus, gymnastics classes and Ohio State pep rallies.

Barr never considered applying to other colleges but was not accepted at Ohio State’s Columbus campus right away, so he enrolled at the Newark campus. “I liked the campus and the small classes. It makes the transition from high school easier. You don’t feel overwhelmed,” he says. Plus, he was able to participate in the Ohio State marching band and continue practicing for drum major. “The facilities were awesome. I took stretching classes so I’d be able to bend over backward in front of 110,000 people.”

Advisors helped him organize his schedule around drum major practice. “The professors were great, too. They give students a lot of personal attention, and they’re willing to stick around after class and chat. It was a great experience.”

In 2016, the sophomore transitioned to the Columbus campus after being named assistant drum major, a position he retained in 2017. By his senior and fifth years, he was living his dream: head drum major for “The Best Damn Band in the Land.”

“Being part of a band is a lot more than you see at the game. It’s a family of awesome people. And gameday is unimaginable because of the impact the band has. You’re interacting with 100,000+ people. Just one interaction could make someone’s day, month or year. It was truly an honor to have that opportunity.”

These days, Barr uses his communications degree in the university’s Office of Public Administration and Planning. “Ever since I was a student I knew I would want to work for Ohio State,” he says. “I worked outside the university for a year and a half, but always had in the back of my mind that the university is where I wanted to be, where I feel comfortable. The ability to work for the place that gave me so many opportunities is special, and having so many connections here is great.”

As a digital communications coordinator, Barr handles social media accounts. “One interesting part of my job is being able to work on some of the football games. I showcase departments that have a large impact on gameday, such as Public Safety and Facilities Operations and Development. That lets me see game days from a different perspective.”

But he’s still keeping up with the marching band, too. “The band continues to innovate in formations, music and precision. And it’s really cool to be able to stand on the sidelines and watch the band come down the tunnel and know that I was able to do that.”

Barr still has his old uniform and many photos — and, of course, his memories. “The top thing is going 5-0 versus Michigan. Another is the Penn State game comeback in 2017.

"Lastly, my favorite memory was my final performance as drum major in Ohio Stadium. It was a great way to end an incredible journey. It’s crazy to think there have been 100 years of history in the Horseshoe.”

Watch: Konner Barr in 2018 as Ohio State's head drum major.