By Molly Burke
On Friday Aug. 26, the Youngstown State University Marching Pride held its annual kickoff event, Meet the Pride at Stambaugh Stadium. The free public event showcased the band’s hard work throughout the summer for the upcoming football season.
In addition to the traditional fight song, families and friends gathered to hear a throwback of classic rock selections by bands such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Van Halen.
Senior music education major Katie Berlin is a drum major in the band. She discussed what she looked forward to for the event as well as some challenges the band overcame in preparation for its performance.
“I’m really excited for people to see how much the band has grown. Over the past few years, we had a slight dip in numbers because of [coronavirus], but now we’re back and we’re bigger than we’ve been in several years. I think the band is producing a really awesome sound and it’s going to be a great show,” Berlin said.
Not only did the Pride face the obstacle of adapting to the pandemic, but the band experienced another transition last year as Kate Ferguson became the new Director of Athletic Bands. However, this change has been a positive one for the band’s morale.
“We definitely are still getting into the swing of things and finding our stride with her, but she is doing an awesome job. The Pride has really adapted very well,” Berlin said.
At Meet the Pride, the band followed Ferguson’s direction with every beat. The performance was the result of weeks of training under her enthusiastic lead.
“They’ve been preparing all summer long, and now they’ve been in band camps for the last several days. We’re putting together all of our music, our drill and getting ready for everything that goes into pre-game, half-time and everything for the football season,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson has been working with the members of the Pride through long hours in the sun during band camp. Despite this, she described everything that makes practicing in the intense heat worth it.
“My favorite part [of directing the Pride] is watching everyone grow and come into their own. They’re learning new things, making new friends and becoming better leaders and teachers,” Ferguson said.
Sophomore computer science major Caroline Manjerovic is an alto saxophone player in the Marching Pride. She gave insight into what inspired her to be a part of the band.
“I decided to join the Pride because I love band, and this was an opportunity to join a very large band. I went to a very small high school, [but] here, there’s so many people. This year we have over a hundred people in the band. It’s an opportunity to play with a lot of great players, a lot of very helpful players, and a lot of very good people,” Manjerovic said.
Some of the performers Manjerovic mentioned include wind instruments, a drumline, penguinnettes, feature twirlers and colorguard. These different roles complement each other in a variety of field patterns that accompany the music.
The Pride can be found at every home football game, and at the University of Kentucky for an away trip Sept. 17. It will also be playing at several volleyball games as well as some local band performances in the Youngstown area. For more information, check out the Marching Pride website.