McKendree’s Brand New Spirit Band

By Abigail Kishimoto, Head Culture Co-Writer

Photos from Phoebe McCutcheon, Head Photographer & Designer

These past two years have brought a lot of change around McKendree, one significant change being the disbanding of the Marching Bearcat Band and the creation of the Spirit Band. The Spirit Band was introduced this year in place of the marching band for multiple reasons, but the main reason is that the Spirit Band is aiming to be a band that supports the entire school—more like a pep band. Currently, you can find the Spirit Band at football games, and hopefully in the near future you will be able to see them at other events around the school! 

I had a chance to talk to Zach Langa, a senior alto sax player, and Bre Sampo, a junior color guard member, about their experiences with the new program they are helping to build this school year.

Bre and Zach

With all of the changes that occurred this year with the performance bands, many students decided to withdraw from the program and not stick around to be a part of the new organization. I asked Bre and Zach why they made the decision to stay and join the Spirit Band. Zach explained that he genuinely loves being a part of the band and did not want to stop playing just because of changes in his senior year. Additionally, he plans to be a good influence for lowerclassmen, who he hopes will stick around and have the same great experiences that he has had. Bre added that the Spirit Band fosters an environment that feels like a family and creates a sense of community and belonging; she did not want to lose that, even though things look a bit different. 

One of the biggest changes that you will see this year is that the Spirit Band does not march; therefore, you will not see them out on the football field this year during halftime or marching in any parades. However, you can still catch them at the home football games playing during the tailgate and in the stands to keep the energy up in the crowd. I had the opportunity to listen to them play during the tailgate a couple weeks ago, and I highly recommend checking them out at the next home game. 

As mentioned, the program lost a lot of members this past year, so I asked Bre and Zach what they wanted people to know about the Spirit Band if interested in joining. They informed me that they would love to have new members and are a very accepting and welcoming group of individuals. Also, there is no need to be a music major to join—in fact, Bre and Zach are both psychology majors! 

Lastly, Bre and Zach wanted to make sure that people know that the Spirit Band does not require a huge time commitment. They meet anywhere from one to three times a week to rehearse and play at football games, but will hopefully attend more events soon. 

If playing music for the crowds is something that interests you, I recommend you join the Spirit Band on this new journey. To join, please reach out to either Andre Sonner or Dr. Jennifer Moder-Bell. 

After our conversation, Bre and Zach almost had me convinced that I wanted to join the Spirit Band. I have a feeling that there are many people around this campus who have talents that would shine in the Spirit Band. I am excited to see this group continue to grow, and I believe that this transition is a positive one!

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