(WILKES-BARRE, PA – NOV. 9, 2013) -- Wilkes University will launch the first collegiate marching band in northeast Pennsylvania and add two new intercollegiate sports – women’s golf and women’s swimming -- in fall 2014.
University President Patrick F. Leahy announced the addition of the activities to an audience of more than 1,000 high school students and their families attending the University’s Saturday, Nov. 9, open house for prospective students. Attendance at the event is the largest on record for an admissions open house at Wilkes.
In announcing the new extracurricular activities, Leahy said that the new additions reflect the unique educational experience at Wilkes.
“Wilkes offers our students the academic and extracurricular opportunities regularly found at a large university in the intimate setting of a small liberal arts college,” Leahy said. “This makes a Wilkes University education unique among its peer institutions. Students who are swimmers and golfers will be able to continue to compete in these sports during their college careers. The Wilkes University Marching Band allows students to continue to play a musical instrument while launching a new tradition, building a legacy and being a part of Wilkes history.”
Leahy added that the addition of the band also reflects a commitment to invest in the student experience. “Other colleges and universities are cutting budgets for such activities, and we’re adding a band because we know it is an activity valued by many students,” Leahy said, noting that most high schools in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties have marching bands. “It will greatly enhance school spirit during football season and beyond.”
Students already involved in instrumental ensembles at Wilkes are enthusiastic about the addition of the band. Senior environmental engineering major Kristen Chorney is a member of the pep band and has lobbied for a marching band at the University. “A marching band is one of the best ideas that has come to Wilkes in a long time. Marching band is not a club or an organization. It is a family that builds and grows every year,” said Chorney, who participated in band in high school. “It is a family of students from a variety of different majors and backgrounds. It is a place where people can enjoy music and support the school. It teaches students things that they cannot learn in class, such as teamwork, a good work ethic and school spirit. “
The band will be directed by Philip G. Simon, who is in his 10th year as director of instrumental studies at Wilkes. In that role, Simon directs the Civic Band, Chamber Orchestra and Pep Band. Simon taught high school instrumental music for 29 years. Marching bands under his direction have won numerous first-place awards and superior ratings in competitions and exhibitions in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
The band is expected to debut at the Colonels’ first home football game in fall 2014.
It will perform in drum corps style and will include wind and percussion musicians and color guard. It is anticipated that the band will have at least 20 to 25 members to start and will grow to 60 to 80 members in subsequent years. All equipment – including uniforms, instruments and flags – will be brand new in 2014. To view or download an image of an example of a possible uniform, click here: Marching Band Uniform (150 dpi NOTE: This is not the final uniform.
The band also will offer many opportunities for leadership development for students. These opportunities will include drum majors, section leaders, and setup crew leaders, guard, pit and drum line captains.
Women’s golf and women’s swimming – both NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports – will begin competition starting in the 2014-15 season in the Middle Atlantic Conference. The expansion will increase the number of intercollegiate offerings at Wilkes to 18, with eight men’s sports and 10 women’s sports. Assistant football coach Harry Armstrong will coach the golf team.
The University is in the process of hiring a part-time swimming coach.
Locations for practice and competition for both teams are being negotiated. The Wilkes men’s golf team plays home matches at the Huntsville Golf Club in Shavetown, Pa, ranked as the fifth best golf course in Pennsylvania by Golf Digest.
Paul Adams, vice president for student affairs, said Wilkes is negotiating with the nearby Wilkes-Barre YMCA for use of the pool there.
“We are exploring opportunities with the Y and are hopeful that with their very full aquatics schedule that we can find a way to accommodate both their and our swimming programs,” Adams said.