'Hurst creates band to increase school spirit

Those who attend Mercyhurst football games may have noticed something missing that other universities and even high schools have: a marching band. Starting next year, that will no longer be the case.

Mercyhurst University is in the process of creating a marching band through the athletic department.

The school has hired John Marszalek, marching band director at General McLane High School, to start next year with a 30-member pep band consisting of current and new Mercyhurst students.

The band will play the national anthem and a few songs at football games, while also attending other games to support sports like basketball, lacrosse and hockey.

While it won’t do the traditional halftime performance at football games next year, the program is planned to expand over the next four to six years. The ultimate goal is a full, 110-member marching band with twirlers, flags and performances before the game and during halftime.

Junior Louise Wiest thinks a marching band is a much-needed addition to the university.

“Starting a marching band will be great for the school, and it is long overdue,” said Wiest. “I just hope people don’t expect too much too soon. It will take a few years before we actually have a band that marches.”

Mercyhurst Athletic Director Joe Kimball discussed how the school came to the decision to start a marching band.

“When I interviewed for the athletic director’s position, I was asked what I thought could be improved upon. I thought Mercyhurst was missing school spirit and a marching band,” he said.

“At some schools, marching bands are as important as the football team. It really gets people in the mood, adds school spirit and its great game-time atmosphere. It just makes sense at a university or small college,” he said.

To test this, this past year Kimball invited the band directors from Edinboro University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to bring their marching bands to Mercyhurst football games and perform.

According to Kimball, “the fans and the administration loved it,” so the athletic department moved forward to creating a band for Mercyhurst.

“We need to get people out of the dorms and in these contests. This could really help school spirit and increase game attendance, which has been somewhat lacking,” Kimball said.

Kimball thinks a marching band will help attract students to Mercyhurst.

“This will help create a draw to Mercyhurst for prospective students, especially those who were in marching bands in high school,” he said.

This will also help current students who were in high school band but are not involved in the music department.
Student reactions to this news have been mostly positive.

Sophomore Hunter McCabe wasn’t entirely convinced but thought it was a good idea.

“I used to be in marching band in high school. I’m not sure how involved people are going to be at first. The program will need time to develop, but I definitely think it’s a good idea,” McCabe said.

Junior Erin Lindell wasn’t as excited with the news.

“Mercyhurst having a marching band would make me feel like I’ve regressed back to high school years,” Lindell said.

Junior Nikki Sherretts was more enthusiastic when she said, “Having been in marching band at my high school, I think Mercyhurst having one is a great idea, and it’ll be a great addition at football games. I’m seriously debating on going out for it next year.”

To learn more about joining the marching band, email John Marszalek at marszalek.j@generalmclane.org.