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Marching band wins prestigious award

Marisa Iati | Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Sousa Foundation announced on Dec. 17 that the Notre Dame Marching Band received the 2011 Sudler Trophy.

The Sudler Trophy is awarded every two years, and a marching band can only receive it once. The same company that manufactures the Heisman Trophy also manufactures the Sudler Trophy, Kenneth Dye, director of Notre Dame Bands, said.

This prestigious award recognizes a contribution to the field of bands over a long period of time and is the only award given to college marching bands.

“This is a huge honor for our band,” Glynnis Garry, drum major of the Marching Band, said. “It puts us in a category of marching bands that have been recognized as outstanding groups that have really contributed to American culture, like [the University of] Michigan [and] Michigan State.”

College band directors across the country submit nominations for the Trophy, Dye said. These nominations usually come from directors who have received the award in the past.

Each nominated band submits an unedited video sample, usually of a single show, to a screening committee that reviews the videos and selects finalists. Finalists must then submit more video footage, and a selection committee chooses the recipient of the Trophy.

The last band to receive the Trophy was Western Carolina University in North Carolina, Dye said.

Notre Dame learned of its status as a finalist for the award in early November.

The Trophy will be presented to the University at the Oct. 8 football game against the Air Force Falcons. It will remain at Notre Dame for two years after its presentation in October.

“[The Trophy] is 22 and a half inches tall, which is the same length as a standard marching step, and it has a bronze drum major over a big stadium and a marble base,” Dye said.

Although Notre Dame will only have the Sudler Trophy for two years, the Marching Band is allowed to order a replica to keep on campus permanently. Additionally, each member of the Band will receive a pin to wear on his or her uniform for the next two years in recognition of winning the Trophy.

“We’ve worked really hard to be innovative, to do new things, but we have a long history of service to the University that includes playing for all the troops that have left campus since the Civil War,” Dye said. “Being 165 years old and the oldest college marching band, that probably was a big difference [in the selection process for the recipient of the Trophy].”

Garry said student band members were very excited and proud to receive the award.

“What’s special about The Band of the Fighting Irish is that with our without any awards or recognition we all take immense pride in what we do,” Carolyn Weinschenk, a freshman piccolo player, said. “The Sudler Trophy is a well-deserved testament to the dedication and hard work of the directors and student leaders of the Band that make it all possible.”

Bobby Reichle, a sophomore trombone player, said the award is a sign of band members’ hard work.

“Hopefully this inspires the band to continue to improve, especially since our football team has been making such impressive progress,” he said.

Garry said many band members did not know the band was in the running for the Sudler Trophy.

“It was a secret that we had made it to the finals, and this was really quite a surprise to the Band,” Garry said.

The band is constantly improving and has been moving in a positive direction since Dye became the director, Garry said.

“With huge events like the Alumni Band Reunion and the New York trip, the Band has become very goal-oriented,” Garry said.

Dye said his main goal for the marching band is “to constantly come up with new things while maintaining the tradition of the band’s history.

“[Marching bands] really do contribute to American lifestyle and culture, and I think our band certainly does that,” Garry said. “It contributes to the lifestyles of students and alumni, but I think it [also] does so nationally, and this award recognizes that. It’s really cool that you can only win this once. To be a part of that group of bands that has won this is quite an accomplishment.”