Members past and present are invited to attend the presentation of the band world’s ‘Heisman Trophy’


For more than a decade, Western Carolina University’s marching band has gone by the name “The Pride of the Mountains.” An event slated for this fall will provide all the evidence anyone could need that the feeling of pride is justified, as the band will officially receive the highest nation’s highest honor in the world of collegiate marching bands.

It goes by the formal name of the Sudler Trophy. Awarded by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation in recognition of an extended record of excellence, it is known informally as the marching band equivalent of college football’s Heisman Trophy. And it is coming to Cullowhee on Saturday, Oct. 24.

That is the day when representatives of the Sudler Trophy Committee and the Sousa Foundation will visit Western Carolina for a presentation ceremony. The event is scheduled to take place during halftime of the Catamounts’ football game against Southern Conference foe Wofford. Game time is tentatively set for 4 p.m.

Because the trophy is awarded not for just a year or two of outstanding performances, but to reward important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a number of years, leaders of The Pride of the Mountains are inviting all former members of the band to return to campus for the presentation ceremony.

“Everyone who has ever marched as a member of the Western Carolina band has played a part in the university’s band program receiving this prestigious national honor,” said Bob Buckner ’67, director of athletic bands. “Our student-musicians who will march this year stand on the shoulders of the thousands of band members who have come before them. This award is due to the hard work and dedication of all of our band members, past and present. It also recognizes the contributions of assistant band directors Matt Henley ’93 MA ’95 and Jon Henson ’05 MAEd ’07, former students who have risen through the ranks to become crucial members of the music program at WCU.”

Because of the significance of the awarding of the Sudler Trophy to the Pride of the Mountains, the annual Alumni Band Weekend, which is traditionally held as part of the final home football game of the season, is being moved up to Oct. 24 so that as many marching band alumni as possible can attend the presentation ceremony. Special reduced ticket prices will be available for former marching band members and their families to attend the game. In addition, band leaders are searching for old band uniforms, instruments, photographs and other items to put on display as part of the Sudler Trophy presentation weekend.

Details about the presentation ceremony, the Alumni Band and related activities are being developed this summer. For the latest information, visit www.prideofthemountains.com.