You’ve seen them around campus—dressed from head to toe in uniform. They greet freshmen at orientation in August. When President Obama came, you saw them standing out in the bitter cold with nothing but stocking caps and Maverick gear keeping them warm. They’re a tight-knit community, and a living component of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s rich culture. “They” are the members of UNO’s Marching Mavericks and the Maverick Machine Pep Band.
According to UNO’s Director of Athletic Bands, Joshua Kearney, all majors are welcome to join and no previous band experience is required.
In fact, Kearney said the majority of the athletic bands’ members are not music majors.
“We’re trying to really reach out to people across campus of all majors who might have played in high school or something like that,” Kearney said. “We’re always looking to expand our non-music major presence on campus.”
While the Athletic Bands are not as visible to potential members as they once were when the university had a football team, social media campaigns, flyers and word of mouth are helping to keep the bands’ numbers up.
“We perform with the pep band at all of the basketball and hockey games, so we’re very visible there” Kearney said. “We do a lot of exhibition performances. The marching band travels to schools around the state of Nebraska. We perform for a couple of thousand people every week—primarily high
school students in Nebraska.”
To prepare for performances, students in marching band practice three days a week for an hour and a half each day, while the pep band practices once a week for an hour and a half. Kearney said the practice time required for students to excel helps them to learn valuable skills they can apply to their future careers.
“There’s a lot of team development, longevity and being able to stick with something for a long period of time and work ethic for sure,” Kearney said. “Being able to set goals for a performance. Figuring out what you have to do to accomplish that goal in a certain amount of time.”
For students like freshman music education major Jake Senff, participating in the Marching Mavericks has enabled him to learn valuable skills he will one day implement in his own classroom.
He has also gained leadership experience by becoming a section leader for the Marching Mavericks.
“What I’m looking forward to most for next year since I’m going to be the woodwind captain is working with other section leaders, band members and Dr. Kearney to design the show and make sure everything goes well,” Senff said. “I’ll be working closely with Dr. Kearney and disseminating information from him and moving information up to him as well as working with the other captains and members of the Marching Mavericks.”
For other students, like freshman theater major Dacota Schwarte, participating in the Marching Mavericks has given her a sense of community by enabling her to meet a lot of new people.
Participants in the Marching Mavericks or Maverick Machine Pep Band receive a $250 scholarship while those who audition and are selected for the pep band receive a $500 stipend.
For more information about UNO’s Athletic Bands and how to get involved, contact Josh Kearney at email@example.com or visit www.music.unomaha.edu/bands.