Band alumni return to play homecoming

Among the 290 members in the 2009-2010 Bulldog Marching Band, about 60 alumni will be joining them this weekend at the homecoming game on Saturday.

Every homecoming, the band expands their seating in the stands for alumni band members to come back and play again.

“They sit up in the stadium and play the fight song just like they used to 10, 20 years ago,” associate director of bands Timothy Anderson said. “And during halftime they’re invited to join us on the field to perform under the lights of Bulldog Stadium as a special member.”

Anderson said he’s not sure how long alumni have come back to play with the band but he knows it’s happened since at least 2005.

Distinguished past band members who have had great success in their career are presented with the Norm and Patti Moglia Band Alumni Award.
The award is named after Norm Moglia, a tuba player and Patti, a baton twirler who were a part of the Bulldog Marching Band in the 1950s. Inviting alumni back to play in the band of their alma mater is a common thing among college campuses.

Alumnus Taylor Leech was a part of the marching band from 2003 through 2005. He played piccolo in 2003, tenor saxophone in 2004, and alto saxophone in 2005.

Leech played as an alumnus in 2006.

“I wanted to come back again because I felt a little silly being called an ‘alumni’ at that time. I had graduated with my BA, but was still in school for my master’s,” Leech said in an e-mail interview.

Bands are a key part of the college atmosphere and it’s hard to imagine college football games without a marching band, Anderson said.

“It’s just a wonderful experience to capture that magical experience one more time even if it’s just for three minutes at half time,” Anderson said.
Those who decide to come back and play at the homecoming game get the music ahead of time. The band and the alumni come together the morning of the game and put together the entire halftime show.

Leech wants to see how the band has changed, especially since it’s under new a direction since he left. He also looks forward to seeing people he hasn’t seen in a while.

Alumna Emily Ann Willigham played the alto saxophone her first year, baritone saxophone her second year, and the piccolo her final year.

“I like playing the music I remember and love and the free football,” Willingham said in an e-mail interview.

Like Leech, Willingham has played in the band as alumnus before. She enjoys seeing old friends and even making some new ones.

“For a moment, you get to be a member of the band without the work. You get to relive the thrill of standing on the field and performing in front of thousands of people. It brings back all the good times that I had,” Leech said.

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