The Honor of Calling Itself ‘The Pride of West Virginia’
by Kirsten Reneau
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–There are any number of groups and organizations that showcase West Virginia University, but only one has the honor of calling itself “The Pride of West Virginia”: The marching band.
WVU’s director of bands, Dr. Scott Tobias, said while marching bands play an important role at just about all universities, it is a little more important for “The Pride.”
“In West Virginia, you don’t have a professional sports team, so as far as athletics and being the flagship university, the whole state sort of rallies around this school. And with the band being a visible extension of that, they rally around the band,” Tobias said.
“I think that’s what separates here from other places. College bands everywhere are important because they represent the schools, but, here, it goes beyond representing the school. They truly become an ambassador for the state,” he said.
Being a member of the WVU marching band requires a lot of time and dedication, Tobias pointed out.
“The band is so well supported in the state, and we appreciate that. All the notes and when they cheer for the band, it’s really appreciated, because these students are out every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, two hours every day and here five hours before kickoff,” he said. “They do put in all that extra time, on top of what their real job is, which is to be a student here.”
WVU senior Rebekah Dunaway, a social work major, joined the band’s Color Guard her freshman year. For her, the band is a family, literally: When she joined, her sister was a senior on the drumline.
“It was just awesome getting to spend a year with her,” said Dunaway, a Preston County native.
Dunaway said her first performance with the band was in McDowell County, where she saw the impact the band has.
“There were people lined up for miles to see us. I was able to see how much (the band) means to the state,” she said.
Dunaway said being a member of the band has given her a variety of life skills that will benefit her after college.
“It gave me structure to look at my schedule and taught me to manage my time and gave me the ability to work well with others,” Dunaway said. “I love it.”
Parkersburg’s Trista Bunner, a freshman exercise science major who plays the mellophone, said she’s been able to keep her schedule balanced despite the extra work required to be a band member.
“I found a balance that really works for me, and I’m making good grades,” Bunner said. “I looking forward to be able to keep playing and making new friends and doing what I love. It’s great.”
Bunner said she enjoyed band in high school and wanted to continue playing in college.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of stepping onto that field and the pride that I feel. There’s a reason it’s in the name,” she said.