Friends for Life
From band camp onward, Pride of the Orange members spend a lot of time together and make lifelong friendships. Ron Lombard played trombone in his high school concert band in Solvay, New York. But his motivation for joining the SUMB was more social than musical. “It instantly got me involved in a large and diverse group of fellow students of all ages, all majors,” he says. “When you practice, perform, and travel together, you become close friends.”
Some of Deb Lombard’s fondest college memories stem from her time in the band. “We always hung out together,” she recalls. “We’d go to the Varsity on Friday nights and there would be a sea of orange marching band jackets. Other students would take one look inside and say, ‘We’re not going in there. The band has taken over.’”
Erin Horner ’90, G’92 formed SUMB friendships that remain at the center of her life to this day. “Band gives you this instant family because it is such an intense experience,” she says.
For at least two dozen couples, those friendships eventually blossomed into romance and, later, marriage. Jim Picolla met his wife, Tammy ’92, in the band. “We started dating when I was assistant drum major and she was color guard captain,” he says. “Before we knew it, we were in love.”
The Lombards began their journey together during a chance meeting at the Varsity. Kathleen Sacks also met her husband, Stuart ’83, in band. For Marc and Pam Perlowitz ’87, love bloomed during a 1985 road trip to the Cherry Bowl. “The band holds an important place in our lives and it’s fun to share that,” Pam Perlowitz says.
Energizing the Crowd
As constant as SUMB traditions have been, the University is a very different place from what it was in 1900, and the atmosphere at football games has changed since the band first officially played at one in 1925. In decades past, students happily sang along as the SUMB played the Syracuse University fight song, “Down the Field,” and they knew the alma mater. Today, fans hear taped music between plays, and the fight song’s only appearance may be on T-shirts sold by vendors. Still, the band’s role at football games remains essentially the same. “Every time we play, we do our best to get the crowd going,” Ethington says.
Jen Ricciardo ’01, president of the SU chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, the national honor band sorority, says it’s important for the band to be open to change. “People would really miss new routines and songs if they weren’t there,” she says. “I think the band will continue to evolve as the years go by—and that’s good.”
Current band members seem poised to carry on the band’s history and pride into this new century. “The marching band is an amazing group of people who still want to get together, put on a polyester uniform and uncomfortable shoes, and march around on a football field every Saturday,” Wasko says. “It takes a certain kind of person to do that. I’m still amazed that more than 200 people on this campus are all working for the same thing. We’re a dedicated bunch, and we produce great things when we all work together. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
Adding Pep to SU Basketball Games |
About 30 years ago, Jim Boeheim ’66, G’73 served as an advisor to a small group of musicians who served as the pep band at SU basketball games. From humble beginnings, a great band was formed. Just ask the current advisor. “The Sour Sitrus Society is the finest student-run band in the country—bar none,” says College of Visual and Performing Arts professor John Laverty, SU director of bands.
The pep band’s 180 members provide entertainment at all home men’s and women’s basketball games, except during holiday breaks. Sitrus also plays at the Comstock Kidsfest, the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Basket-Ball, the annual Make-A-Wish Foundation auction, and at Syracuse elementary schools. For away games, 30 members travel with the team.
There are plenty of differences between the Sour Sitrus Society and the Pride of the Orange. For starters, Sitrus doesn’t march, and since the basketball season is considerably longer, the band must be prepared to play any one of up to 30 pieces of music at a given time. “They learn on the job,” Laverty says. “They don’t have the time to rehearse three nights a week the way the marching band does. Sitrus will sometimes hand out music in the stands. That can be stressful for new members, but it’s a great way to find out if they can deliver the goods.”
Members of the student-run Sitrus elect representatives to the organizaDion’s executive board. “I want section leaders making decisions,” says Laverty, who provides behind-the-scenes support. “I want student conductors making decisions. They get real leadership experience with this organization.”
Justin Mertz ’01 was elected one of two student directors of Sitrus for the past two years. “We are responsible for conducting the band, but more importantly, we communicate with arena officials via headset to ensure that all support and spirit organizations [cheerleaders, the dance team, and Sitrus] are coordinated and ready to perform at the appropriate times,” he says. “It’s been my single most rewarding experience at SU.”