Just seconds after the North Carolina State Wolfpack stunned Villanova to advance to the Sweet 16, the camera panned to the Villanova Band and caught a girl playing the piccolo through her tears. Many may have thought, "Oh, how sad!" and forgotten about it minutes later.
However, that's not how the internet works.
Within minutes you could find photoshopped images like this.
There's even a Vine!
After seeing all of this fly across your timelines, you may have asked yourself at least once, "Who is this girl?"
Well, I went and found out.
Your face right now:
Who are you, Crying Flute Girl?
I'm Roxanne Chalifoux. I'm a senior Biology major.
What are you feeling right now? Reflect on the past 5 days.
I just feel like it's unbelievable. It doesn't feel real. The biggest thing I feel is confusion because I didn't feel like it was buzz-worthy! It didn't feel like I did anything that extraordinary.
When did you realize you were an internet sensation?
I had seen myself on the Jumbotron, but I hadn't realized it was connected to national television. I saw myself up there, and my dad was at the game, and I didn't want him to see me crying. But the cat was out of the bag on that one because, well, the internet saw me crying. At the game, people started texting me saying "Saw you on TV!" and I thought "OK, they saw me on TV. Whatever." I didn't really know it had become a big thing because then my phone died.
After the game I went to TGI Friday's. They had the TV on and were showing highlights of the game. Next thing I know they're showing highlights of Villanova-NC State game. I was thinking "Come on, don't make me watch this again! Give me a break!" Then they show me, crying, playing a piccolo and I'm like "Oh my God! You put that up there instead of another dunk?!" That made NO sense to me! And, of course, I'm still in my band uniform and my bow and people at TGI Friday's were like "Wait, is that you?" and I couldn't believe I could say "Yes!"
Later on we went back to the hotel with the Band. I had finally charged my phone and my friends told me "Well, don't go on Twitter..." and I thought "What's happening?" because they made it sound like it was negative, but really they just didn't know how I would feel about it. I had dozens of texts from my roommates and friends asking if I was okay or if I needed anything. In the beginning I was just completely overwhelmed with people finding my Twitter name and tweeting at me. The good that came out of it was that I only had one mean person and everyone sort of took care of it. I got a lot of support from Villanovans and people around the country- even NC State fans! The amount of support I got was really considerate.
Were you scared? Embarrassed? Happy?
My first reaction was "How did this happen?" but not in a good way. I didn't really know how to handle it. I knew I had to go into Twitter to formulate some feeling about it. The first thing I saw was all the notifications. I figured the best thing to tweet was my Villanova Wildcats tweet.
Villanova wildcat till I die, through the smiles and the tears✌️— Roxanne Chalifoux (@roxiechalifoxie) March 22, 2015
But right after I did that I got a Twitter troll. I thought "Oh no, it's this kind of thing. I'm going to get harassed about it." And then I started to get worried. But I also got notes of encouragement saying everything would be okay.
When people call you the "Crying Flute Girl" instead of "Crying Piccolo Girl," does that infuriate you?
No, not at all! I thought it was funny how people started standing up for the piccolo, and it became a whole controversy on Twitter. I was never going to address that. They're literally the same instrument except the piccolo is smaller and an octave higher.
What exactly made you cry? Was it the fact that Villanova lost when the team had such high expectations?
Yes, of course! Being a senior, this was actually my first chance to go to the NCAA Tournament. With being a Bio major you can't really miss lab or tests, and this year I happened to not have any conflicts. I was really excited to go, I figured "It's my senior year, better go out with a bang!" I'm from Pittsburgh too, so it was nice to be at home but still be at Villanova. Being there, so close to the court, you can really see how [the players] are handling it with the frustration on their faces. Your heart as a fan- either in the band or just a Villanovan- really goes out to them. Especially Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston; it was heartbreaking seeing them so upset. This was about them! As seniors, this was not what they wanted, and then myself being a senior... that was my last basketball game! I didn't think I'd be putting on my jersey ever again. So my own little era ended with the Villanova Pep Band.
What was going through your mind as various media outlets started to contact you?
I just thought "Are you kidding me?" I didn't really think it was a big deal. I cried and it was caught on national television, but if you watch the Super Bowl, the NCAA Championship, Stanley Cup, there are so many people caught crying and they don't become memes, anything! They're shown and it's over. To me [crying] was so natural: if you're in the band, and it's time to play the fight song, you PLAY the fight song! That's your job as a band member. The fact that it became anything just leaves me speechless.
Who did you meet behind the scenes of Fallon, and who was your favorite?
Well, I met Jimmy Fallon, all of The Roots, Bubba Watson; all were fantastic. Bubba Watson is so down to Earth, just so nice. He actually asked to take the picture with me! All of The Roots were so welcoming. I was so appreciative of them sitting back and working in this new thing into what they do- they have their own set up, but they were willing to fit me in. A piccolo doesn't fit with their instrumentation at all, and they learned the fight song and rehearsed it. They were all so kind. Questlove gave me a pair of custom drum sticks. Jimmy Fallon is just as friendly on camera as off camera. He made me feel so comfortable!
How has it been back on campus? Do people stop you?
Walking around campus has been very normal. I'm not even stopped. Two students said "Hey, you were on Jimmy Fallon!" and I'm happy to talk about it. But really no one comes up to me, which is fine. I'm not sure if I'm only recognizable with tears streaming down my face, or if people don't want to bother me. But it's nice being back on campus and going to my class and getting back in the swing of things.
Describe being a part of the Villanova Band.
Music has always been an important part of my life. I started playing the flute when I was 11. I moved on to the piccolo when I joined my high school marching band. I actually started playing the bassoon my sophomore year of high school. I just love it. It's a great way to express yourself, which I guess isn't understood unless you play an instrument.
[At this moment a guy walked past us, did a double take and asked "I'm sorry are you the Piccolo Girl?" and introduced himself. So that's now the third person to stop her.]
Some of my best friends are in it- I met them the first week of the band camp. We're just there to have fun, and we all love music. The fact that we support the basketball team or football team is an added bonus. The fact that I won't be a part of that organization in a few months definitely gets me upset.
What was the best experience you have had as a part of the Villanova Band?
I would say that being there and watching the `Cats win the Big East Tournament this year was one of the most memorable basketball events I've ever been to. It was only my second Big East Tournament, so being a senior, being able to go, there aren't even words to describe how proud I was of the team and how exhilarating the whole experience was. To see them cut the net, to see Jay Wright and Father Peter go up there and do their speeches, was truly an unbelievable experience. The whole time we had smiles on our faces knowing we were walking away with this. I cried when they won that. I don't know, I guess I'm emotional!
What else are you involved with on campus?
I'm in Delta Gamma (sorority), Alpha Epsilon Delta (Health Preprofessional Honors Society), and the Pre-Optometry Club.
What are your plans after graduation?
I'm going to Optometry School in August! I got accepted into my top two and I just have to decide.
What are Crying Flute Girl's plans? Podcast? Book?
I'm just going to let her simmer down. These viral things have a shelf life, and that's perfectly okay with me. I just want to be a student. I work in the Marine Lab on campus and I have responsibilities that I want to get back in the swing of. Friends have recommended I start a blog called "Sad Band Fans" where they can just post their feelings, and that might really be funny! But, I never expected any of this, it's been such a whirlwind and when it dies down, that's perfectly fine by me. I've made the most of it. Being upset was never an option because it's all been really funny to me.
Do you have someone to see Taylor Swift with? I'm free that day.
So many people have asked me that! I don't really know how to pick one person, but I have a couple months to pick one out. I really can't wait!