Deciding where to go to college was one of the most stressful experiences in my life. There are so many things to consider when choosing where to go. Do I want to go away? Do I want to stay at home? How much can I afford? Believe it or not, one of the bigger reasons of my decision was that Stony Brook had a marching band.
I cannot even find the right words to express how much fun my first semester of college has been because of joining this band. It definitely helped my transition from High School to College, because once the semester began, I already knew about two hundred awesome people from band camp the week before.
Something else that I truly love about being in the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band is that the rest of the campus respects us, and genuinely loves hearing and seeing us perform. This was something that I never really felt when I was at High School. It always feels good to be appreciated. I definitely couldn't be any happier with my decision, and I look forward to the rest of my time that I'll be playing in this band.
Hometown: Glenville, NY
I came to school a week early for band camp, and instantly had connections with 188 people. That was a great family to step in to. I left home to go to college, and I would be 4 and a half hours away from home, and leaving family was hard for me. They are a very important aspect in my life, and I was relieved when I was taken care of by the band. They are a friendly group of kids, and they always have your back. They are super diverse, and you definitely learn a lot from everyone. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I know there are a lot of different stereotypes out there about "band kids" but let me tell you something, they don't exist here. We break every mold set for a band. We are always challenging ourselves to get bigger and better, and we have wonderful leaders beside us. There is something special here.
Hometown: Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Instrument: Tenor Saxophone
I am currently here at Stony Brook on an exchange program from Manchester, United Kingdom. It’s very interesting to be in New York, as I was born here, in the Bronx. However, I have never lived in the US. I grew up in the British Virgin Islands, where I stayed until going to the UK for university.
I decided to join the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band because I figured it would be a uniquely American experience. And what an experience it has been! Marching and cheering for "football" games has been really exciting, even if I still don’t fully understand the game. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never done anything like this, but from the very beginning at band camp I was made to feel welcomed. I had started to have second thoughts about studying abroad, but that first week drastically changed my outlook on the coming semester. It was honestly the best welcome to the US that I could have had.
Three months later, the semester–and my time here–nears its end. I’ve had some very memorable experiences so far, like having a roommate, going into the city, seeing my first hockey game, voting in the Presidential Elections, and celebrating Thanksgiving. I’ve formed many bonds that I believe will last long into the future. And I can’t forget going through the passage Sandy and Athena! Overall, it has been a great semester. The marching band has been a major part of the experience, and I’ll always be grateful that I was able to join this family. I will miss it dearly. Forever a proud Seawolf.
Hometown: Hauppauge, NY
Instrument: Bass Guitar
Growing up 15 minutes away from Stony Brook as a child, I have spent much of my time here on campus through various activities. In particular, being such a big basketball fan, I’ve been coming to almost every home game since I was in 1st grade and rooting for the Seawolves.
For many of these games, it was just me and my family almost alone in the bleachers with the band sitting beside us. Over these past several years, I’ve seen the band grow from just a few dedicated students to the Spirit of Stony Brook.
I knew, coming here, that I wanted to be a part of the band, and I recalled from watching games for the past several seasons that there was a bassist in the pep band, which I saw as a perfect opportunity.
Now, I’m a proud member of this great group, and I’ve had so much fun playing in just a few games already. I’m looking forward to the future experiences in the band, and hopefully a long-awaited bid to the NCAA tournament.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY & Botswana
Hello, my name is Jamie Ward. I was born in Brooklyn to a Guyanese father and a Panamanian mother, who I sadly lost to cancer when I was six. My dad remarried a woman from Botswana, whose cousin is the chief of her village, and so after eight years of living in America my family moved to Botswana, where my dad began a church. My life changed; I was used to having a small family, but then in addition to having a younger sister I got three more siblings.
There are a lot of differences between New York and Botswana, one of which is the amount of wildlife. Before moving to Botswana I was amazed to see a deer on the side of the road, but in Botswana there are roaming animals everywhere. My family once took a trip to the north and while driving a huge elephant walked onto the road and just stopped. Since taunting the elephant would make it angry, we just had to stop and make no noise. Earlier in the trip, my family and I went on a cruise on the Zambezi River, where I was able to see crocodiles, hippos, swimming elephants and a beautiful sunset. My family and I also went on multiple game drives, where we saw a vast array of different wild life, had to look out for leopards in the trees, and worry about lions smelling our scent while taking a break out of the truck in the bush; a far cry from New York. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in Botswana; I learned lessons about another culture and have memories that would last a lifetime.
I chose Stony Brook University because my father heard that it is a good school, in addition to being close to family. Stony Brook also has the courses I want to study, unlike the University of Botswana. Despite having growing up primarily in Botswana, I wanted to go away for college just like other freshmen. I feel that because I’ve traveled a lot, transitioning to living on campus was not difficult. It was kind of rough at times, especially because I cannot just go and visit my family when I am homesick, but Skype, being close to relatives and making friends by joining clubs and the Color Guard has helped to make me feel more at home here.
Hometown: Corning, NY
Instrument: Baritone & Clarinet
When I sat down to think about how to sum up the four years in which I have been involved in the marching band, what came to mind most was just how much has changed since the fall of 2007.
In that sense, the journey the marching band has had in the past four years has been characterized by a continuous question of identity—of finding out who we really are, what various roles as individuals and as a group may be, and how we should accomplish what we want to accomplish.
You’ll have so many experiences and learn so many things both inside and outside the classroom, and then one day you’ll turn around and discover that four years have gone by and you’re a completely different person. I’m about to graduate with a degree in history and study law in the fall, which is totally different from where I began.
As the years go by, no one will remember those days when we played for a virtually empty stadium, and how we changed that aspect of Stony Brook simply by having a good time and enjoying what we were doing.
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Hometown: East Schodack, NY
Instrument: Alto Saxophone
What first appeared as misfortune became, in the end, one of my biggest blessings. I was originally supposed to go to Stony Brook Southampton, and was initially disappointed to learn that residential operations would be closing. After tossing around the idea of putting in last minute applications elsewhere, I decided Stony Brook would be my best bet. A friend of mine from high school, Beth Derderian, came to me and suggested I joined the marching band. My high school didn’t have a marching band, and I wasn’t too musically involved, but when it came time for band camp, I realized just how much I was missing out on.
Being a part of the marching band helped me through the college transition, connected me to a wide variety of students that are now some of my closest friends, and allowed me to feel like I belonged on such a large campus. In high school, I never went to sporting events and had little school pride, but at each game I attend at Stony Brook, I find myself cheering louder and putting more energy towards supporting the team.
I can’t even begin to think about how the Spirit of Stony Brook has bettered my college experience thus far. My biggest fear coming to college, as silly as it sounds, was eating lunch alone, and due to all the close friendships that have developed solely due to the band this hasn’t been a problem at all!
Hometown: East Hampton, NY
Instrument: Trumpet and bass guitar
As many members of the band know I have been in the band since day one of the first band camp where we all met in the lounge of Benedict; it was a somewhat intimidating and strange way to start college. I was completely alone in my room as a freshman for 3 days in a hallway filled with football players and part of what was apparently a brand new group on campus. However it ended up being the best thing I did my freshman year, I met some of my closest friends there and my current girlfriend Jessica Carde, who I have been dating since Christmas of that first year. I also found my school spirit through joining and I feel I have developed as a leader and learned to be more outgoing throughout my time with the band.
I took on honestly more than I should have that semester, but the support of the staff and people in the band made it bearable. Since then it has been wonderful to witness and contribute to the growth of the group, and furthermore the growth and change it has brought to the campus as a whole. I hope to see the band develop further musically in the future, and know that with the support of the staff that this is attainable. I would not trade my time in the band for anything and the people in the band and the staff of the band are some of the best people I’ve had the privilege of knowing.
I have one more year at Stony Brook as I finish off my Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, but I would like to offer some advice to all band members: Don’t overload yourself your freshman year and stay with the band because there are so many wonderful opportunities that come from being able to say "I'm with the band."
James Iannotto Jr.
Hometown: South Setauket, NY
Coming to the band as a freshman, I had no clue what to expect. I was very nervous but the warm welcome we were given when we arrived was a source of relief. From day one, I noticed that the band relies on teamwork, dedication and discipline.
Band camp was an interesting experience. The amount of work that we had to get done was over-whelming but this helped us bond together. There was never a dull moment during band camp; during the breaks we had fun and played various games together.
The returning members gave us a nice welcoming during band camp and made a large effort to get to know us. They dedicated so much time to help us out and made us feel like we were really one of them. They did such an amazing job and left me knowing that I have people on campus to go to for help if ever I needed.
Joining the band has had a positive outcome so far. The Spirit of Stony Brook is making the transition to college a lot easier for me and is helping me develop as a person. Being a part of the band has made me more positive and I am looking to have bright future here at Stony Brook.
Hometown: Mount Sinai, NY
I find it hard to believe it's been a year since I joined The Spirit. As an incoming freshman, I attended my orientation where continuing members of the band encouraged me to join. I was reluctant at first, but decided to sign up. Needless to say, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
As a band member, I got to move in early and get accustomed to campus before the rest of the freshman, which is awesome, but there were other benefits as well. I met many students, as well as staff, who were willing and able to answer my questions; and I started classes knowing they were all willing to lend a helping hand.
Being a member of The Spirit of Stony Brook has helped me become involved on campus. Playing for such a passionate crowd is amazing; seeing the way the campus community comes together encouraged me to explore all that Stony Brook has to offer, to get involved in other ways on campus.
Remembering all of those students who helped ease my fears of college, I decided to become an Orientation Leader. As an OL, I get to help make the freshmen’s transition to college a little bit easier, by helping to create their first college schedule, taking them on tours, as well as introducing them to other things related to SBU, such as my favorite part of orientation, when we teach the new students our “Victory Song” and “What’s a Seawolf?” cheer. It’s a great way to show new students just how much spirit we have here at Stony Brook University; it gives them a glimpse of how connected we all are as a university, as a community.
You don’t need to be a member of the band or an Orientation Leader to show your spirit here, and no matter how these incoming freshmen choose to get involved on campus in the future, they all learn right from the start just how proud they should be to be Seawolves.
Hometown: East Northport, NY
Once at a lightly attended women’s game, people from the band started running through the fan section, trying to distract the free throw shooters. Then, I remembered a trick that I can do.
I stood under the net, lifted up my shirt, and did what was later named the “belly roll.” Players on the court and on the bench were clearly disturbed by it, and I had my new job. For the rest of the season I played in the band for women’s games, and stood in the front of the Red Zone during men’s games, distracting free throw shooters.
It was truly an awesome season for Seawolves basketball. When I came to Stony Brook, the basketball team was not winning and the only people who cheered were in the band. This year, we won almost every home game, and Pritchard Gymnasium was a loud sea of red for every one of them. We even sold out the arena, something that I never could have foreseen two years ago.
It's been amazing to see the transformation, from a band of sixty playing for a team that had yet to make a name for itself, to a band of well over one hundred, regularly playing for over a thousand screaming fans.
Playing in the Stony Brook Marching Band and instructing Islip’s color guard; it's cool. Sometimes hectic, but definitely cool. At first, choosing to do both was a little overwhelming. But you can say it was worth it.
Coming to Stony Brook from a small, often underestimated high school band, it was great to see what it was like to be part of this huge red machine. Through early mornings and late nights, uniform checks and hurricanes, the band made me appreciate the value (and rewards) of hard work. As Mr. Leddy said over and over, "Everybody loves the band." But it didn't stop there.
In Islip, discipline on the field is one of its main focuses and strengths. But despite this, I felt that the guard was still lacking something. For the answer, I looked to Stony Brook and found it. Spirit. The band started the cheers, the band got the crowd off their feet, the band made the games more exciting. So I asked myself, why shouldn't my guard do the same?
After taking them to watch the band at Wolfstock last year, they came out of their shells. They jumped at the opportunity to create stand dances and alternate singing cheers with the cheerleaders. They befriended the Kickline and their flag work attracted the attention of MSG Varsity that October. What surprised me the most, however, was their desire to learn the same "scary" tosses and combinations that they were afraid of only a few months prior. They insisted that they had to nail it because it made people cheer. As a coach, all I had to do was sit back and watch the transformation.
One year later, Islip's colorguard has more than tripled in size. And spirit.
Hometown: Baldwin, NY
As a freshman member of Stony Brook's Marching Band, I am awed by the impressive teamwork displayed by the band thus far, as well as the warm welcome it extended to all of the new members.
When we first encountered the rest of the band, we were told by the Lead Drum Major, Justin Francisco, that the band would basically be a second family to us, but I was a little skeptical of that statement.
However, over the next few weeks, I began to see just how true Justin’s declaration really was. At lunch, our seniors would invite us over to lunch with them, tutor us, give us advice on the ways of college, and generally look out for us. It was heartwarming. In addition, everyone is serious about how we perform out on the field and we work hard to do our part.
Our first performance at Hofstra was extremely fun, as was our performance at our home game versus Brown. It is exhilarating to hear the crowds cheer us at various parts throughout our field presentation. On top of that, there is a sense of pride in supporting our school and our team from the stands. We have a great time at these performances.
Before my first day of band camp, I did not know what to expect. However, my first impression of Stony Brook and its marching band gave me a good feeling about my future here. The Spirit of Stony Brook is still a young band, and I look forward to watching it grow and develop during my college career. SEAWOLVES!!!!! WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION?!?!?!?
Hometown: Loomis, CA
I came to Stony Brook as part of the National Exchange Program. I spent most of my first semester wanting to go back, but then I joined the Stony Brook Pep Band and subsequently the marching band.
I suddenly felt at home and within weeks I established a strong group of friends. I became more involved in school activities, and I really felt the pride and delight for the band from the school and its teams and organizations.
I realized that a huge part of my college experience had been missing, and now I want nothing more than to stay and finish my undergrad here, with this amazing group of people.
I am excited and proud to say I will be graduating as a Stony Brook Seawolf!
Hometown: Rockaway, NY
My tenure in the marching band has been amazing. Never have I encountered such a large group of loving, intelligent and goofy people in my life! (haha!) When I first came to Stony Brook, I didn’t know that the following summer I would be part of something that would forever change the University. We created a lasting legacy, but being one of the original twenty, I just want to express how proud of the band I am. We’ve come very far, very fast, and I’m sure you will continue to grow.
The laughter, fun times, long days in the sun, crutch line and all the other things that make us a family, will be sorely missed. Keep your swagger. Burn Red Hot. I’ll remember I’m a Seawolf for as long as I live, but I’ll also remember that I have a family in the band, and for that I thank you.
Hometown: Beijing, China
My third semester at Stony Brook University as an international student and a member of marching band has been amazing. For the past few months, it has been a great pleasure meeting al
Being an international student, life can be quite different. Upon my arrival in the U.S, I always thought something was missing. However, with marching band, it is like a big family filled with laugher and fun times. Saturdays, we join our Seawolves on the football field to support and cheer them on. No matter win or lose, the red hot Stony Brook spirit will always keep us fighting till the battle is through.
I am so thankful to have found what was missing and I look forward to continuing playing with the band in the semesters to come.