The Band That Won’t Stop Growing

Top: The Pride of the Sierra from 2010, Bottom: The Pride of the Sierra from 2015

Anyone who lives near Mackey Stadium on a Saturday night can hear the deafening roar from the Pride of the Sierra marching band.

Garrett Spalka, the drum major for the band, has the responsibility of leading the band in cheering on the football team and the school. As the band has grown, Spalka’s role and viewpoint on the band has changed.

“We had made it,” said Spalka “we had finally become the big time college band comparable to Ohio State and Michigan State.”

Spalka (middle right) with his band members

Spalka is 24 years old, and is a student at the University of Nevada, Reno as a senior music education major.

Spalka exudes the look of a leader, with his grand appearance to the professional he strives for. His passion for the band program strives above all, in how giddy he is to talk about the Pride of the Sierra program and band life in general.

The Pride of the Sierra has shifted from a small time band to a legitimate college marching band having increased from 80 members to 205. This growth is most evident in the quality of the shows, which now incorporate fireworks and cannons to excite the pumped UNR football fans.

While the band has steadily increased in size over the past five years, the university has not addressed this issue when it comes to practice space. The marching band has had to change their practice and rehearsal locations to more outdoor locations.

Spalka would like the university to step up in adding more facilities for the band.

“I’d love a new marching band building,” he said “some of the major universities in the United States, including universities in our own conference, have marching band buildings.”

Many schools in the country have facilities dedicated solely for the marching band, which the university lacks. Of all the construction taking place on campus, there is nothing in place for the growing band.

Spalka would like the band to increase to not only bring in more talent, but to make a statement to the big marching band universities around the country.

“250 is an impressive group and for the size of the university we have a band that is comparable to the size of the university,” Spalka said.

How much more could the band increase? Spalka would like it to keep increasing.

“I’d love to see us increase by 50 more people,” Spalka said.

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