As we head into our fifth home game of the season here at the University of Delaware I have mixed feelings about things. They are personal yet they revolve around the profession I am so proud to be part of. UD plays UMASS in football tomorrow and for the first time since the 1990’s the UMASS Minuteman Marching Band will not be in attendance.
WHAT?! you say. It’s true. And it’s not for any reason short of budget concerns. The UDMB faced the same thing last year when we were unable to travel to the northland. The economy is taking it’s toll on college marching bands all over the country. The cost to move 300 people for just ONE day can be upwards of $15,000. An overnight trip can run as high as $25,000. Remember–you have to feed them too! It’s expensive, period.
When I spoke with the new band director of the UMMB about coming down and learned that they would not be making the journey I have to admit to disappointment. This was our sister band. George and I, Thom and Jim, Rah and Fred worked for years to cultivate the relationship between the programs–we would be the unique ones in the country: two college rival football programs whose bands were closer than siblings. (Well OF COURSE the students would be–all the directors were!) It did not take long for this relationship to not only develop, but THRIVE. Let’s face it, have you ever heard of two other college marching bands, their parents and their alumni all traveling to Ireland to perform in two New Year’s events as ONE organization?!
I was looking forward to celebrating the UMASS departure from the FCS to Division 1. I was looking forward to being host to my old friends Thom Hannum, Colin McNutt, John Leonard, and a host of others. I was looking forward to showing the new director Tim Anderson our Delaware hospitality and wishing him well as he begins his journey down the road that George Parks left so abruptly. So I was disappointed.
And yet after thinking about it I came to the conclusion that, once again, things happen for a reason. In this case a very selfish reason. The last time the UMMB was in our house was 2009. The two groups joined together for a massed band performance of “America, the Beautiful” and “My Man.” George and I got to enjoy being “kids” again–we were able to go back to the way we were when we first met in the Buccaneers: George on the podium and me playing solo trumpet. And for a brief moment in time, we WERE kids again. The two staffs were arm in arm during “My Way” and “In My Life” as were the two bands. Swaying and singing together as ONE organization. …and yes, the UMMB tubas “forked” the front lawn of my house with “UM hearts UD.” And it was all good and it was as it should have been.
So my mixed feelings are between personal and professional. My professional side would have liked to play host to my alma mater one last time; my personal side is content with the fact that the relationship between the programs ended as it was meant to in 2009. And those memories will be cherished by all those who were part of our 16 year relationship–one that I do not believe exists anywhere else in the country.
Will the relationship continue? That remains to be seen–perhaps yes, perhaps no. Changes–they happen.