New Haven marching band embodies hard work and dedication


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Andrea Rojas

University marching band members perform, West Haven, Sept. 10, 2022

The University of New Haven marching band has been a staple of half-time at all home football games over the last decade. It was formed in 2009, beginning with only 20 members after football was brought back to the university. Since then, the organization has blossomed into one of the largest student organizations, expanding to nearly 300 members and becoming a statewide success in the last six years.

According to Theo Kissel, a senior forensic science student and the mellophone section leader, the Chargers marching band was “one of the only marching bands in the New England area to have an in-person season and perform a marching show in 2020 during the height of the covid pandemic.”

He also emphasized the diversity of students in the organization., “We are made up of students across a variety of majors and both undergraduate and graduate students,” he said. “The marching band is an ensemble that requires a unique set of skills, requiring both skilled musicianship to play and perform the memorized music combined with the physical skills of precise movement and keeping proper form while moving in step with the music.”

Kissel also mentioned that this organization of students creates a close-knit family bond after spending all their time together, “building bonds with people that can last a lifetime.”

Kissel says the marching band is a great experience for students who love music and want to pursue the marching band long-term or want to branch off into different avenues of music and performance. He said“[It] is a large time commitment but is worth it for those who are willing to dedicate that time. If you put in the passion for music and the commitment to the discipline needed, the marching band gives back skills and bonds needed in life.”

Haily Mereschuk, a senior forensic science student and one of the band’s feature twirlers, says that, in her opinion, performing at football games is a lot of fun. She said, “I think the marching band provides a sense of excitement and spirit that is different from other forms of entertainment [at the university].”

Mereschuk also says that the crowd really energizes the celebration during their performances. “The interaction with the crowd is nice and celebrating with the football team at the end of games is really special.” She said that“It’s a really rewarding program that might be a lot of work but in the end it’s worth it!”

Jason DeGroff, the Chargers marching band director, has been leading the program for 13years. He said, “In 2010 I took over as director and we grew from 20 members to 268 in seven years, making us the fastest growing collegiate marching band in the country for four of those years!”

DeGroff compared their organization to a variety of others, saying, “We are a class, but also like a sports team, and often looked at like a club.”

Students in the marching band earn grades for their efforts and participation, work in both large and small groups and, as DeGroff says, “They get to perform for their peers and also football and band crowds as the season progresses.”

He said, “It is such a pleasure to work with [the students] each year, and each year is different from the one before.”

The annual homecoming game at the university is a special way for the marching band to showcase their performance during the halftime show. DeGroff mentioned that preparing for an event as big as homecoming takes a little extra effort. He said, “Since we do not change our show each week, getting ready for homecoming is like all the other ones where we are adding on to our show. Seeing all the band alumni who come each year makes it a special event for sure.”

DeGroff told students considering auditioning for the organization that “It takes some time, but not too much, and band students are really good at time management skills. It is work, but very rewarding and what you feel by the end is only understandable to those who have gone through it. The sense of accomplishment and comradery are unparalleled.”