100 Years of UF Bands
GAINESVILLE - They play anything, anywhere, at any time. It's the 100th anniversary of bands at the University of Florida. And the "Fightin' Gator Marching Band" is preparing for the first performance of its centennial year.
On a typical home game week the band will rehearse for about 8 hours, not including the preparation and performance on Saturdays. It's all part of what students and directors are striving to do. Make this the year, "The Year of the Gator Band."
Kyle Sullivan a Clarinet player said, "It's going to be a great year... This is the year of the gator band." It's been 100 years of bands at UF.
Stephen Eyler a drummer for the Gator Marching Band says there's no greater honor then to be part of the 100th year anniversary of the band, especially during his first year of drum line. Eyler said, "nervous but I am excited to take the first steps into the swamp... It's going to be a great feeling."
The award-winning band is the recipient of this year's prestigious Sudler trophy. Jay Watkins the Assistant Director of Bands said, "The Sudler trophy is administered by the John Philip Sousa Foundation and it is awarded bi-annually to a college marching band in the country that has contributed to the American way of life... Significant contributions to the American way of life is the way they refer to it."
With 365 members, the band is the largest it's ever been. Watkins says he's proud of what the Gator Band has come. "Certainly coming in here in 06 and being part of that national championship and the one in 08 as well... It's been exciting. Then the trip to London this past summer 2012 for the Olympics has certainly helped elevate the reputation of the band in the international stage," Watkins said.
Throughout the years both the Director and the Assistant Director of Bands say what they love most about their job is working with all the artistic students that represent over 150 different majors on campus.
Chip Birkner Assistant Director of Bands said, "Our campus has had a long and thriving tradition of bands. To be here for the 100th year anniversary is special. The students understand it's special and it gives us an opportunity to look back at all the previous bands that have been on our campus and celebrate our history."
The official presentation of the band's Sudler trophy will be during halftime at the homecoming game (November 9th), followed by an Alumni Gala on November 23rd.
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