The Marching Utes: A ‘Fun Uncle’ Family at the U


Kiffer Creveling

The University of Utah marching band performs during the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA on Dec. 31, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Zach Anderson, Arts Writer


At every event, there is always an unsung hero — the stage crew in a rap concert, the lighting team in a play’s production and, in this case, the marching band at every pep rally. Though many people watch their shows, not many truly understand the amount of blood, sweat and tears that their fellow students pour into their extracurricular activities.

What is it like being the rockstars of any school event they attend? What does this band really mean to the students in it? If anyone were to know, it would be the Marching Utes’ director, Brian Sproul.

A Director’s Say

At the University of Georgia, Sproul experienced life as a marching band member firsthand while completing his undergraduate degree.

“Every marching band is an extension of the culture of the university,” he said. “It’s commitment to musicianship, it’s commitment to athletics, it’s commitment to the student experience.”

He continued, saying marching band provides the students with a deeper understanding of many parts of the university itself. Not only do band members have to understand their instruments, but it requires them to get involved with people outside of their realm of expertise and enjoy the camaraderie that comes from it.

Asked about the culture of the Marching Utes in specific, Sproul instantly said, “Oh, it’s a big family for sure.” Students rally around each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Along with this sense of comradery comes opportunities for leadership and experiences students have never had before. Most importantly, the Marching Utes is a place that fosters meaningful, unifying friendships that can last a college career or beyond.

“You got students that are looking out for each other’s wellness, whether that be academic wellness, emotional or social,” Sproul said. “It’s a really good place to hang your hat at the University of Utah.”

A Student’s Say

One such person that has hung their hat here is section leader and field assistant Erica Lampers, who’s been a Marching Ute for four years.

“I couldn’t have imagined a college experience without it,” she said. “Coming to the U, I didn’t know a single person from Utah. No one else from my school or area was going there, so I really had no one.”

Before school started her freshman year, she tried out for the marching band because she wanted to continue playing her instrument. It gave her an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than herself, and she very quickly found commonalities with her fellow band members. She saw her upperclassmen as mentors, who showed her how college worked.

“[The Marching Utes] became something that I could depend on … I was a bit clueless coming to college as every freshman is, but getting to know band members two weeks before school started really made me feel more comfortable with the local area.” Lampers said. “It opened up a door for so many experiences I’ve gotten to be a part of.”

For Lampers, she said that traveling with like-minded people that all play instruments was a major highlight. 

Oftentimes when students join organizations, they feel pressure to conform to the needs of the group, but at the Marching Utes, Lampers said, “we try to go for a ‘fun uncle’ band.” By “fun uncle,” she means the uncle we may all have at a family reunion, who isn’t afraid to be themselves.

“Marching Band is supposed to be an enjoyable experience and we’re trying to enjoy the culture here at the U,” she said. The Marching Utes aim to develop those within the organization to be the best version of themselves, not force them to be something they’re not. All the while, the students get to be experts in their own instruments of self-expression.

Though the band gets support from outside donors and the school itself, there’s still always room for student support to improve. Both Sproul and Lampers enthusiastically believe the best way to support the Marching Utes is by going to the games.

“When we have a pep rally or we’re playing at some sort of concert, stick around,” Sproul said. “Watch. Cheer for them.”


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This article was updated since its release in the the Student Voices print issue to clarify Brian Sproul’s role as Marchin Utes’ director.