We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but in this case there are 130 reasons to do so.
When the Clarion University Golden Eagle Marching Band takes the field this year, they will take up more of it because the band has surged to 130 members including instrumentalists, colorguard and majorettes.
Last year, the band had 118 members including all sections. In 2014, there were only 52 members.
Dr. Casey C. Teske, who first served as director from 1996 through 2001, has led the band since fall 2014. Teske said the band has grown by 150 percent in the last five years.
"What makes the marching band so successful is the eclectic mix and hard work of the instrumentalists, color guard and majorettes from all majors that make up the group," Teske said.
The growth has been particularly felt in a couple of sections of the band. The trumpets had five players last year, but this year there are 10. The percussion section which normally struggles to get one of each type of instrument now has 28 players including four students playing quads – a tenor drum with four different sizes of heads to strike.
When drum major Kenzi Mundkowsky, a senior secondary English education major, first began her collegiate marching band career four years ago, there were only 60 students in the marching band.
"We've doubled in size and then some,' Mundkowsky said.
Even more good news is the band didn't need to purchase any additional uniforms to cover the growth. The marching band's uniforms were replaced in the fall of 2015 and the band had enough uniforms to go around.
Each band member also receives an automatic scholarship of $300 after successful completion of the class.
But the reason for the band's growth is simple. Students have been recruiting students.
"It's always been students recruiting other students. That's always been our thing,"
said marching band's recruitment chair Megan Moore, a junior finance and management
major, who also plays the clarinet.
And recruiting students means really getting to know them before they ever step foot on campus.
"I knew every one of these people's names before we started," Moore said. "I remember meeting them at the fall open house."
Just meeting them isn't enough. Marching band members reach out to the students they've met and stay in touch with them solidifying the connection.
"We love reaching out to people," Moore said.
The same thing that recruits students to the marching band also seems to retain them.
"We have a family atmosphere," Mundkowsky said. "By the time the next camp comes around,
we miss each other."
Senior baritone saxophone player Sam Metcalfe, a corporate and personal finance major with a minor in accounting, agreed with Mundkowsky's sentiments.
"From day one it was a collective that I walked into that made me feel very protected and taken care of as far as anything I needed to know about the campus," Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe stayed because he wanted to pass that feeling onto the underclassmen.
And so far the underclassmen are getting the message.
"They take you in as who you are and you don't have to change anything about yourself," said sophomore Cassidy Matz, colorguard captain and early childhood education major with a minor in music. "It's such a good way to join the university."
Amanda Venesky is a freshman special education major, who plays baritone saxophone.
"I did this in high school and thought I would try it in college. I knew I'd have a friend group and people to talk to," Venesky said.
Venesky was worried about taking her marching band skills to the collegiate level, but everyone has been so supportive that it's been a smooth transition.
"I'm exhausted, but we're all exhausted together," Venesky said.
The exhaustion comes from band camp which ran Aug. 19-25. Colorguard, majorettes and the percussion had a pre-camp Aug. 16-18.
At band camp, you'll either find students working through music in Marwick Boyd or gathered at the Memorial Stadium parking lot counting out steps and, again, practicing music. There's also a strong smell of sunscreen in the air as the group is in the sun for hours learning their drill formations or practicing for a parade.
The marching band traditionally leads the Autumn Leaf Festival parade each year.
"I really like the games and getting out in front of everybody and seeing how much hard work we put in," Metcalfe said.
At a practice this summer, the band practiced a drill while Teske observed them from high above.
"Boy did last night pay off," Teske said to the band after a run-through.
"The talented students that make up the Golden Eagle Marching Band are very committed to their craft. The amount of hard work they put into the band shows in every one of their performances, where we are known for our quality product and high energy," Teske said.
To see the results of their hard work, you can attend this week's home game Saturday, Sept. 15, at Memorial Stadium against the Lincoln University Lions.
There also will be a marching band alumni event Sept. 22 for the game against Gannon University. Former marching band alums will be special guests at the president's pavilion where they will be honored. In the third quarter, alumni band members will have the opportunity to meet new band members. Admission is $10 which includes a ticket to the game, traditional tailgate fare and beverages. To register visit alumniandfriends.cuf-inc.org/events or call (814) 393-2572.