There were at least a couple of local connections to Minnesota hosting Super Bowl LII on Sunday - beyond those who were among the 10,000 volunteers for the game. One individual, 2017 Windom Area High School graduate Sydney Erickson, was a part of the Super Bowl halftime show Sunday evening. She played with the University of Minnesota Marching Band during Justin Timberlake's halftime extravaganza. In this space a couple of months ago, Sydney, who plays the baritone in the band, mentioned that there was a social media push to have the band perform with Timberlake during the halftime show. Then, nothing. I hadn't heard anything more about such a possibility, until Thursday, when I got to thinking about the band's efforts to be a part of the show - just as the band was a part of the halftime show 25 years ago when Minnesota last hosted the Super Bowl. Well, lo and behold, guess who was in the halftime spotlight with Timberlake, decked out in tuxedos, to perform with him in the song, "Suit and Tie?" Yep, the U of M Marching Band. Sydney filled in the gaps on Monday, saying that the band was told at their post-season banquet in mid-December that they would perform at halftime with Timberlake. "There was lots of screaming," Sydney said with a laugh. However, they had to sign confidentiality contracts that they would keep the event hush-hush. Obviously, they did a very good job of it. The band began preparing for the halftime show in mid-January at their rehearsal hall at TCF Bank Stadium and spent the week before the Super Bowl rehearsing with Timberlake. "The first day he was there, we knew he was there . . . then the next time we ran through it, we knew he'd be watching," Sydney explained. "He stood up and clapped when the band was done and actually bowed down (to us) a little bit, so that was exciting. "That first day we worked with him, he actually came down and spoke with the band. He's very nice, funny and liked to make everyone laugh." Sydney said the band also worked with Timberlake's band "The Tennessee Kids" and said that everyone they worked with, including choreographers, was very nice. Although their bit in the show was just five or six minutes of the 13-minute halftime performance, Sydney says they spent 54 hours rehearsing. However, none of the music nor the dance steps they employed were very difficult or much different than what they normally do during their halftime shows at Gophers' games. Interestingly, every member of the band was fitted with earpieces so they could hear the music in real time as they played, taking away the enclosed stadium's reverberation factor. "For this past week, we had a private, Justin Timberlake concert right in our ear," Sydney added with a laugh. Once they were at US Bank Stadium Sunday, the band was gathered in the tunnel under the stands for nearly the entire first half, waiting to perform at halftime. Afterward, they really didn't have an opportunity to watch the second half even though they were in the stadium. However, they were able to listen to it. Indeed, the earpieces wound up serving a two-fold purpose. When they were unable to watch the game, they found the game's broadcast frequency and were able to listen to it. You might have noticed the band was decked out in tuxedos for their appearance. Band members were fitted for their tuxedos according to measurements they gave at the beginning of the year for their marching band uniforms. However, some alterations were needed. "We didn't have to hem them ourselves this time," Sydney quipped, referring to the hemming party she and her bandmates had in August for the marching band uniforms. Needless to say, the opportunity to perform in the Super Bowl is something Erickson will cherish for a lifetime. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she admitted. "It really sunk in when we ran out of the tunnel and there were actually people in the stands, instead of playing to an empty, quiet stadium (in rehearsal). "We also heard the director of the show (in our earpieces). Right after we ran out there, she said over everyone's earpieces, 'Are you guys ready? There's 150 million people watching this and it's going to be one of the most-watched shows ever. Be ready. Show 'em what you can do!' It really sunk in then. "For a split second, I thought, 'Is this really what I want to be doing?' " She admits that feeling went away as quickly as it came. If you watched closely, you might have caught sight of Sydney on the very right-hand edge of the TV screen for just a moment. Another connection Another local connection involves Windom residents Dave and Donna Vaupel. Their grandson, 12-year-old Hogan Vaupel of Shakopee, sang with Angelica Cantanti of Bloomington as backup to Broadway star Leslie Odom, Jr.'s rendition of "America the Beautiful," during the pregame show. The group also had their own suite for the game and were able to stay through the halftime show.