By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Elena Ehrhardt has never flown before, or seen the Atlantic Ocean.
And she's not that much of a football fan either, although she will admit to some casual interest in the NFL.
But come Monday night, the 17-year-old Quincy High School junior will be he envy of millions of American college football fans.
Ehrhardt will be part of the color guard performing with the All Star Invitational Marching Band at halftime of the Bowl Championship Series national tile game between No. 1-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama at Sun Life Stadium near Miami.
She realizes a lot of her friends and family members are jealous, but just smiles.
"I'm just really excited," Ehrhardt said. "I know it will be a great thing."
Her mom, Annette Ehrhardt, explains how this all came together.
"Last spring, (Elena) received a letter inviting her to audition," Annette Ehrhardt said. "We are not sure, but we believe that her nomination came from the camp she attends each summer and the awards she has won there. She auditioned and was accepted."
Elena's success as part of the QHS color guard has been in whirlwind fashion. She has only been a participant since she was a sophomore.
The audition did not require an in-person performance.
"I sent in a DVD," Elena said.
The All Star Invitational Marching Band program brings together performers from around the country by offering them the opportunity to showcase their skills at a national marching event and interact with a team of nationally recognized marching directors. The program is operated by WorldStrides Heritage Performance programs through special arrangement with the BCS national championship game.
Information supplied by WorldStrides Heritage Performance says its programs "promote excellence among choirs, bands, orchestras, dance and cheer squads by providing opportunities for accomplished student performers throughout the world."
In 30 years, WorldStrides Heritage Performance says more than 100,000 students have taken part in performing at a national bowl game or parade. The organization has maintained longstanding relationships with other major college bowl games, including the Gator Bowl (24 years), Sugar and Liberty Bowls (23 years), Orange and Alamo Bowls (17 years), and Holiday Bowl (12 years).
"I wasn't sure (the All Star Invitational Marching Band wad legitimate), but after checking it out (with school officials) I was told it was a great opportunity and they told me I should apply," Elena said.
And several months later, she is winging her way to the BCS national championship game, where she will be performing in both pregame and halftime shows.
Elena's also done her homework.
"I know it's the game where Alabama and Notre Dame are playing," she said.
Elena arrived in Miami Thursday to begin practicing for Monday night's big game.
"This is going to be a huge event for (Elena)," Annette Ehrhardt said. "We are very proud."
And most everyone else is envious.