Record number attending Alumni Band reunion

K-State Alumni Communications

Members of the Kansas State University Marching Band practice at Memorial Stadium before the start of football season. (Photo: Ashley Pauls)

It doesn’t take long for members of the Pride of Wildcat Land, the Kansas State University Marching Band, to start feeling like family. After hours spent practicing, traveling and performing together, they form a bond that reaches beyond the field. 

The connection is so strong many of them stay in contact even after they graduate and join the KSU Alumni Band. Hundreds of those alumni will return to campus this month for an Alumni Band reunion, where they will perform at the Saturday, Sept. 19, football game. 

“Once you are in the band, there’s a camaraderie and a teamship there,” said Frank Tracz, K-State director of bands. “It’s pretty strong; it’s pretty tight. It’s a special bond — it becomes part of you.”

The Alumni Band has existed since at least the early 1970s (a photo of the band appears in the 1971 edition of the Royal Purple) and was founded by Paul Shull, former K-State trumpet professor and band director (1960-1972). 

The Alumni Band hosts a reunion every other year. This year’s event has drawn a record number of participants — 250 former band members. These alumni will rehearse with the marching band, play the alma mater and national anthem at the football game, and perform at halftime. Tracz said it will be a special year, since the Alumni Band members will help celebrate K-State’s receipt of the Sudler Trophy, which recognizes the top marching band in the U.S.

“We’re just glad that these folks are coming back home,” Tracz said. “It’s their award, they’ve earned it. It’s time to celebrate together.”


K-State Alumni Association staff serve cookies to Kansas State University Marching Band members during the Association's annual band appreciation event at the K-State Alumni Center. (Photo: Ashley Pauls)
Alumni Band President Brian Long ’07, ’09 has fond memories of his time in the marching band and is looking forward to the upcoming reunion. He played piccolo for two years and later served as an assistant drum major and head drum major. During his two years as a master’s student, he was a band manager, assisting with rehearsals and driving the equipment truck on game days.

“I have hundreds of fond memories of gameday performances: Wildcat wins, upsets, championships, bowl trips, community performances and great times at rehearsal,” Long said. “Far and away the best and most valuable experience from my time with the band was the opportunity to be a leader, to learn from Dr. Tracz how to motivate and inspire, and to hone my skills as a member of a large and highly successful team.”

Although registration for this year’s event has closed, there are other opportunities for alumni to get involved throughout the year, such as passing out treats during the heat of band camp and providing scholarships for band members. 

For more information on joining the Alumni Band, click here. Alumni who performed in the marching band at least one semester are eligible to join. Dues are $21 a year, or $11 for first-year members (up to three years after graduation). Follow the Alumni Band on Twitter

 Alumni Association supports the band

The K-State Alumni Association also supports the marching band and recognizes students for their hard work. The Association hosted its annual marching band appreciation event Aug. 20 at the Alumni Center. Staff treated members of the band to popsicles, cookies and bottled water following their practice at Memorial Stadium.  
 

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