Members of the Gator Band from multiple generations returned to campus Oct. 17-18, 2014 for Gator Band Alumni Weekend. On Friday, former band members watched the Homecoming Parade and later gathered for a cocktail reception featuring the UF Jazz Trio. On Saturday, Gator Band Alumni members gave back to current Gator Band members by presenting more than $12,000 in scholarships to students. Later that evening came the highlight of the weekend—marching at halftime during the homecoming game.
Michelle Taunton says she looks forward to Gator Band Alumni Weekend each year and the opportunity it brings to connect with old college friends and march across the field again with the current band.
“It seems like just yesterday that I was a student marching a show every week,” she said. “One of my favorite parts of the weekend takes place at our morning rehearsal before the game, when the alumni band members join the ranks of the current Gator Band to hold hands and sing the Alma Mater, harmonies and everything. That, and marching onto Florida Field again, gives me goose bumps every single year.”
Gator Band Alumni Weekend was the first event presented by the new Gator Band Alumni Board since it became officially affiliated with the UF Alumni Association. Members of the newly affiliated board include Robin Oegerle, Denise Russo, David Snedeker and Scott Stowell. School of Music Associate Professor and Gator Band Director Jay Watkins will serve as an ex-officio member, with Jennifer Coolidge, director of development, and Lillian Dompe, development and special events coordinator, serving as staff liaisons to the UF Foundation. Two additional members will be elected by the Gator Alumni Band membership to the board in the near future.
“Becoming affiliated with the Alumni Association will allow us to broaden our membership,” said Stowell, chair of the board. “The affiliation also raises the profile of the Gator Band Alumni through area Gator Clubs and creates opportunity for additional support from the Alumni Association.”
The board will be responsible for recommending activities, financial projects and expenditures to School of Music Professor and Director of Bands David Waybright and School of Music Director John Duff.
“With the help of colleagues and members of the Alumni Association, we came up with some individuals who are ready to work,” said Waybright. “I am excited about who is involved and the potential new projects we have lined up.”
On Sept. 12, 2014, the Gator Band Alumni Board was recognized and introduced during the UF Alumni Association’s Gator Gala, an annual awards and recognitions celebration held during the Florida Forward weekend. Board member Oegerle attended as a representative of the board.
“The UF Alumni Association often asks the question, ‘When did you become a Gator?’ I became a Gator in the fall of 1970 with my first step onto Florida Field as a member of the Gator Band,” said Oegerle. “Being a member of the Gator Band Alumni Board has let me relive the good old days, but more importantly have the opportunity to support the current Gator Band, personally, and through events sponsored by the group.”
Oegerle also accepted the Clubbie Award on behalf of the Gator Band Alumni Association at the Florida Forward banquet. The award recognizes Gators who have gone above and beyond in strengthening the Gator Nation over the past year. The Gator Band Alumni Association was honored for their fundraising efforts that brought in $23,000 to be designated for student scholarships for the Band.
To view more photos from Gator Band Alumni Weekend, click here.
Join the Gator Band Alumni Association
To be a member of the Gator Band Alumni Association, you must be a registered member of the UF Alumni Association. To sign up, visit www.ufalumni.ufl.edu.