Arts & Culture

230 students across campus lend their talents to Wildcat Marching Band

photo of Wildcat Marching Band in state outline formation at 9/11/21 football game
Wildcat Marching Band

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2022) — Nothing beats a cool fall Saturday in the Bluegrass when University of Kentucky football fans gather at Kroger Field to cheer on their beloved Wildcats. Anticipation and excitement build as fans blend into the colorful landscape of Kentucky blue and vibrant turf green. From the Catwalk, the rhythmic beat of a drumline creates an unmistakable pulse as feet, arms and instruments move in unison. Voices swell as players and cheerleaders rush onto the field. The cheers reach a spine-tingling crescendo as the Wildcat Marching Band (WMB) starts to play the opening notes of UK's fight song. It's game day in Kentucky and the entire experience isn't complete until the marching band makes its first appearance on the field for the halftime show.

“The marching band is very much a part of the game day atmosphere, for the band, for the fans, for the players, and for the Big Blue Nation. If you take the UK marching band out of that equation, it will leave a huge hole and a loss of energy and excitement in the stadium,” said John Cody Birdwell, D.M.A., director of Bands at UK. “The band brings a lot of energy to the field as well as in the stands, and they’re well connected to the cheer team and to the dance team. Everyone works together to keep the energy going from before kickoff until after the game.”’

The students in the band represent the largest, most visible student organization on campus, 230 members large who are giving everything they have to the university.

Sara Mays, a fourth-year drum major and arts administration student from Cecilia, Kentucky, is one of the 230 giving her all.

“I love the instant gratification of putting on the uniform on game day and then performing for thousands of diehard Kentucky fans and watching them sing and dance along with our performances,” Mays said. “I also love all of the unwritten traditions that only the band knows and that continue to get passed down even though we have no idea where they originally came from, but we still scream them to the top of our lungs.”

Shayna Stahl, D.M.A., now in her second year as the first female director of Athletic Bands, says there is an incredible amount of school pride at UK, that in her experience, is not always seen at every school.

“Saturday and game day is almost like a holiday here. Everybody is all about the game, tailgating and other events. When I chose to come to UK, it wasn’t just about the passion of the students, but it was also the commitment to the Big Blue Nation from the community that is just as involved as the students,” she said. “The most rewarding part of my job is to work with students who are so enthusiastic about music, the marching band and UK in general.”

The WMB enjoys a national reputation as one of the finest collegiate marching bands in the country. A pep band travels to every away game in the Southeastern Conference and the full band travels to one away game each year. In addition, the WMB has participated in numerous post-season bowl games, Bands of America Regional Championships, one Presidential Inauguration, a World Series, and the 2008 Ryder Cup.

“Several years ago, the Wildcat Marching Band was declared ‘One of the Top Bands in the South’ by Southern Living magazine,” Birdwell said.


The WMB, an integral part of the School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts, has a rich history that dates back to near the turn of the century. In its infancy, UK was modeled after a military band with military style uniforms, which was commonplace for college marching bands at the time. In 1903, Capt. George Byroade, commandant of UK’s Military Science Department, appointed a Professor Rucker as band director, creating the first official marching band at UK. As the band evolved over the decades, the band became known as the “Marching 100,” a tradition that lasted through the 1950s and early 1960s.

Birdwell says that the changes in the WMB over the years that people might notice most are for one, changes in uniforms that sometimes occur with each new director, and secondly, a change in music to reflect current trends.

An important piece of UK’s marching band history is William Harry Clarke, associate professor emeritus at the UK School of Music, and longest living band director to date. While Clarke was at UK working on his doctorate, he was asked to become the interim director of Bands in 1968 to restore its dwindling numbers and reputation.

“Upon accepting the one-year position, I checked the roster in the summer of 1968 and noticed only 30 new people had signed up for marching band,” Clarke said. “The band was all male which was very traditional in the Big 10 Conference at that time. I felt that wasn’t right and recruited females to the band, including majorettes and flag bearers. There were 120 members in the band that fall. Two or three years later, the roster grew to 200 and later maxed out at 300.” Rather than the one-year assignment, Clarke’s position with the band spanned 21 years of his 43-year tenure in the UK School of Music.

Clarke made many significant contributions to the WMB during his tenure that remain in place today. In addition to dramatically increasing the size of the band and including females, he was given band assistants at a time when none existed. Under Clarke's mentorship, three inexperienced young trainees went on to become band directors for University of California, Los Angeles, Florida State University and University of Arkansas. Clarke also led the way during the 1970s to the band into a Drum Corp style at a time when drum corps started making a strong showing among collegiate bands.

“The band was very traditional when I arrived and I was into marching band drill,” Clarke said. “Drum Corp is a more complex drill and there is more freedom in how formations come together and there’s more crowd engagement.”

Although Clarke retired in o2011 after 43 years at UK, his presence is still felt to this day and not just because you might spot him in the stands. The moment you hear some of the most recognizable music in the Bluegrass, such as “On, On U of K,” (written by Carl Lampert in the 1920s), you are listening to music heavily influenced by Clarke which is no doubt a cornerstone of UK’s marching band history. Clarke found another song called “Kentucky Fight,” (composer unknown) that he had arranged for the band. The band uses it as a second fight song. 

Today, the Wildcat Marching Band is made up of over 230 members which come from all over campus representing many different majors including sciences, education, agriculture, engineering, as well as music.

“It’s a great mix of people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and they become a family that represent what this university is about,” Birdwell said. “Though not all are music majors, they’ve played instruments and played in high school bands before coming to UK, and they want to keep that going because it is such an important part of their lives.”

Caleb Hamlyn, a fourth-year music education student and current drum major from Lexington, says there is a powerful sense of community within the band that shows throughout UK’s colleges, the university and the city as a whole.

"The Wildcat Marching Band has given me a support system not only within my college, but as well as my life in general," Hamlyn said. "Although we do have a lot of fun, we also care about each other deeply and want to keep each other accountable to ensure that we all succeed."

What It Takes

Clarke says that having a great band is dependent on the ability to recruit the finest musicians.

“Dr. Stahl is doing an excellent job recruiting and will make great improvements,” he said. “The future of the Wildcat Marching Band is bright!”

Being a music major is not a requirement to be in the band. Stahl says that as long as the student can play an instrument, she can teach them how to march.

“The marching band is a great community for the band members to be involved in, one that is inspiring in terms of quality of music, marching and overall performance. It takes being good at entertaining the crowd and keeping them involved in wanting to sit and watch the band perform,” she said.

UK students who want to join the Wildcat Marching Band do so knowing they are making a sizable time commitment to their love of music and entertaining. Although there are no traditional classroom lectures, there are multiple weekly practices. Game day starts five hours prior to kick-off for rehearsals.

Mays says that being in the Wildcat Marching Band has given her many lasting memories and relationships but feels it has also promoted her success as a UK  student.

“Knowing that if I do not do well in my classes means that I can’t do marching band, which kind of pushes me to do even better,” she said. “Marching band also creates a sense of time management, determination, people skills and so many other fantastic personal traits that contribute to my daily life both as a student and in my classes.”

When Mays came to UK from a small town in Kentucky, she felt overwhelmed but found a safe place with the WMB.

“When I walk onto the field, I know that I am where I belong and I know that the people around me are the ones that care about me the most,” she said.

To learn more about the UK Wildcat Marching Band, please visit:

The following is a roster of the 2022-2023 Wildcat Marching Band.

Annaliese Adams, clarinet, from Wilmore, Kentuckyba

Olivia Allen, alto saxophone, from Birmingham, Alabama

Sara Anderlich, alto saxophone, from Lexington

Hayden Arnold, piccolo, from Lexington

Sebastian Astolfo, tenor saxophone, from Lexington

Nick Atchison, trumpet, from Lexington

Claire Baumann, piccolo, from Lexington

Will Baumann, alto saxophone, from Lexington

Gabby Bausano, piccolo, from Huntington, New York

Kaitlynn Bayne, sousaphone, from Lexington

James Beckner Jr., drum major, from Richmond, Kentucky

Sabrina Beiring, majorettes/twirlers, from Grass Lake, Michigan

Aaron Benjamin, alto saxophone, from Mantua, Ohio

Anna Beno, majorettes/twirlers, from Davie, Florida

James Berend, trumpet, from Prospect, Kentucky

RJ Bernot, mellophone, from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Tricia Bertke, piccolo, from Powell, Ohio

Dalys Bishop, trumpet, from Morgantown, Kentucky

Paige Blackwell, majorettes/twirlers, from Bangor, Maine

Kaylee Bliss, color guard, from Louisville, Kentucky

Grant Blondin, sousaphone, from Tinley Park, Illinois

Nathan Borders, alto saxophone, from Simpsonville, Kentucky

Jenna Boulden, piccolo, from Richmond, Kentucky

Julianna Boulden, piccolo, from Richmond, Kentucky

Zakaria Brame, clarinet, from Flint, Michigan

Alex Branch, alto saxophone, from Shelbyville, Kentucky

Olivia Brooks, color guard, from Winchester, Kentucky

Zac Brown, percussion, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Vic Brown, color guard, from Mansfield, Ohio

Alli Budd, majorettes/twirlers, from Canton, Ohio

Bryce Burgoyne, trumpet, from Roanoke, Virginia

Roman Burke, clarinet, from Richmond, Kentucky

Michael Buschle, trumpet, from Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Sophia Cahill, mellophone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Bryan Caldwell, alto saxophone, from Midway, Kentucky

Ricky Camacho, sousaphone, from Grayson, Kentucky

Eryk Carrillo, alto saxophone, from Frankfort, Kentucky

Eli Christian, baritone saxophone, from Mount Washington, Kentucky

Reggie Christian, percussion, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Dakota Clancy, color guard, from Charlotte, North Carolina

Michael Click, baritone saxophone, from Lexington

Grant Clifford, mellophone, from Lexington

Maddy Cohen, alto saxophone, from Lexington

Cooper Cohron, alto saxophone, from Lexington

Will Comerford, trumpet, from Crescent Springs, Kentucky

Mel Contreras Martinez, trumpet, from Shelbyville, Kentucky

Brynn Cooper, piccolo, from Taylorsville, Kentucky

Taylor Cooper, color guard, from Louisville, Kentucky

Cooper Correa, tenor saxophone, from Bowling Green, Kentucky

Elizabeth Corry, trumpet, from Ledbetter, Kentucky

Aaron Creech, percussion, from Lexington

Kamilo Davila, trombone, from Beaver Dam, Kentucky

River Davis, trumpet, from Richmond, Kentucky

Levi Dickey, tenor saxophone, from Glasgow, Kentucky

Brandon Dorn, trumpet, from Parksville, Kentucky

Reese Dudeck, majorettes/twirlers, from Beverly Hills, Michigan

Parker Dunaway, percussion, from Louisville, Kentucky

Brayden Dykes, percussion, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Nathan Ellis, trombone, from Franklin, Kentucky

Jessica Elson, clarinet, from Elkville, Illinois

Sam Esquivel, trombone, from Lexington

Jacob Falconbury, tenor saxophone, from Lexington

Garrett Feck, mellophone, from Nicholasville, Kentucky

Adam Fernandez, trumpet, from Lexington

Glory Fisher Ferrell, piccolo, from Winchester, Kentucky

Morgan Fitzpatrick, color guard, from Versailles, Kentucky

Milo Flannery, alto saxophone, from Lexington

Jillian Freeman, majorettes/twirlers, from Huntington, West Virginia

Kara French, color guard, from Hamilton, Ohio

Keaton Fuller, trombone, from Smithfield, Kentucky

Caroline Galbraith, color guard, from Henderson, Kentucky

Owen Galligan, percussion, from Jasper, Georgia

Max Gambrell, piccolo, from Louisville, Kentucky

Tyler Geis, trombone, from Belleville, Illinois

Andrew Gilbert, trumpet, from Grayslake, Illinois

Audrie Gilin, piccolo, from Goodrich, Michigan

Alyssa Givens, color guard, from Lexington

Steven Glaneman, percussion, from Eighty Four, Pennsylvania

Matthew Goodrich, clarinet, from Lexington

Dorian Gordon, sousaphone, from Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Elijah Gray, tenor saxophone, from Lexington

Kayla Green, sousaphone, from Morgantown, Kentucky

Gabe Gritton, trombone, from Lexington

Sam Gritton, trombone, from Lexington

Adin Hagans, mellophone, from Danville, Kentucky

Caleb Hamlyn, drum major, from Lexington

Matt Hancock, mellophone, from Columbia, Kentucky

Kortney Harney, trumpet, from Cynthiana, Kentucky

Christian Hash, trombone, of Lexington

Spencer Hash, percussion, of Lexington

Kiley Hawk, majorettes/twirlers, from Louisville, Ohio

Lauren Hayes, color guard, from Lexington

Emily Hellmueller, color guard, from Louisville, Kentucky

Zach Henz, clarinet, from Lexington

Rachel Herrin, percussion, from Lexington

Zach Hewlett, percussion, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Gwendolyn Hinkle, piccolo, from Lexington

Gabe Holman, alto saxophone, from Richmond, Kentucky

Aaiden Holmes, trumpet, from New Albany, Ohio

Tabitha Horne, piccolog, from Lexington

Jacob Horton, trumpet, from Greenfield, Ohio

Tara Howard, majorettes/twirlers, from Richmond, Kentucky

Piper Huffman, clarinet, from Hinsdale, Illinois

Eli Hughes, alto saxophone, from Carlisle, Kentucky

Grace Hughes, piccolo, from Lexington

Evelyn Huth, alto saxophone, from Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Zack Huwalt, trombone, from South Park, Pennsylvania 

Mattye Jackson, trombone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Ashleigh Jones, clarinet, from Taylorsville, Kentucky

Lindsey Jones, piccolo, from Somerset, Kentucky

Victoria Jones, alto saxophone, from Hazard, Kentucky

Madison Jones, trombone, from Lorain, Ohio

Mason Kearns, trombone, from Lexington

Julia Keisling, majorettes/twirlers, from Germantown, Tennessee

Eli Kidd, sousaphone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Andrew Kincaid, trumpet, from Versailles, Kentucky

Elizabeth King, piccolo, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Lucas Kinzer, trombone, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Carson Kitts, sousaphone, from Lexington

Carmen Klapheke, clarinet, from Pekin, Indiana

Julia Kollitz, trombone, from Kirkwood, Missouri

Nina Kovach, color guard, from Paducah, Kentucky

Jess LaBrie, trumpet, from Coopersburg, Pennsylvania

Ally Landgraf, color guard, from New Albany, Indiana

Ella Lavy, color guard, from Severna Park, Maryland

Tanner Leadingham, percussion, from South Portsmouth, Kentucky

Joshua LeBlanc, trumpet, from Kennesaw, Georgia

Kali Lewis, alto saxophone, from Alvin, Texas

Will Lucky, trumpet, from Cynthiana, Kentucky

Zach Lutes, trumpet, from Cynthiana, Kentucky

Andy Mallamaci, alto saxophone, Uniontown, Ohio

Alex Malone, clarinet, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Jesus Marin, tenor saxophone, from Richmond, Kentucky

Brandon Marshburn, mellophone, from Powell, Tennessee

Emily Maxey, color guard, from Louisville, Kentucky

Sara Mays, drum major, from Cecilia, Kentucky

Zain McCoy, tenor saxophone, from Lexington

Void Mckinney, mellophone, from Lexington

Mia Meeks, baritone saxophone, from Fairdale, Kentucky

Ben Meyer, trumpet, from Naperville, Illinois

Chase Michaels, trombone, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Gavin Milby, percussion, from Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Aaron Moeller, percussion, from Louisville, Kentucky

Emilie Molina, majorettes/twirlers, from Pewaukee, Wisconsin

Tanner Moore, trumpet, from Lexington

Isaac Morrelles, trombone, from South Shore, Kentucky

Rachel Moscona, alto saxophone, from Florence, Kentucky

Shelby Mullins, piccolo, from Narrows, Virginia

Colin Neal, percussion, from Lexington

Gabe Neff, alto saxophone, of Bow, New Hampshire

Karys Nelson, color guard, from Knoxville, Tennessee

JT Newkirk, alto saxophone, from Maceo, Kentucky

Autumn Norton, sousaphone, from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Luke Nuzzo, baritone saxophone, from Lexington

Joshua O’Banion, mellophone, from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Karl Oswald, trumpet, from Ballwin, Missouri

Kenzie Parsons, majorettes/twirlers, from Lake Orion, Michigan

Cory Partin, tenor saxophone, from Flat Lick, Kentucky

Lilly Penird, trombone, from Shortsville, New York

Yankier Perez, trombone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Ben Perry, trombone, from Versailles, Kentucky

Sydney Peters, color guard, from  Lexington

Mitchell Pieper, percussion, from Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Robby Pratt, sousaphone, from Bloomington, Illinois

Destiny Price, piccolo, from Bardstown, Kentucky

Laura Quire, trumpet, from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Luke Ransom, sousaphone, from Lexington

Eli Ratliff, mellophone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Nick Rawlings, baritone saxophone, from Crestwood, Kentucky

Bryanmarc Ray, trombone, from Kenova, West Virginia

Sydney Ray, color guard, from Hustonville, Kentucky

Laura Reese, piccolo, from Lombard, Illinois

Dillon Richburg, trumpet, from Fayetteville, Georgia

Rebecca Rieck, color guard, from Richmond, Kentucky

Abigail Ritchie, tenor saxophone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Laz Robinson, sousaphone, from Nicholasville, Kentucky

Jordan Sallee, percussion, from Lexington

Megan Satterwhite, alto saxophone, from Shelbyville, Kentucky

Nova Schack, percussion, from Eminence, Kentucky

Casey Schallert, mellophone, from Bowling Green, Kentucky 

Avery Schanbacher, clarinet, from Versailles, Kentucky

Jonathan Schares, trombone, from Chesapeake, Virginia

Noelle Schulkers, color guard, from Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Caleb Shimko, alto saxophone, from Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Morgan Shipley, majorettes/twirlers, from Frankfort, Kentucky

Abby Sirrine, clarinet, from Lexington

Emily Sisson, piccolo, from Burlington, Kentucky

Alexis Smith, mellophone, from Lexington

Lauren Sommer, color guard, from Lexington

Brayden Sosa, trombone, from Winchester, Kentucky

Rebecca Stacy, piccolo, from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

Kyla Stevens, tenor saxophone, from Aledo, Texas

Nate Stombaugh, trumpet, from Nicholasville, Kentucky

Kayla Story, mellophone, from Calvert City, Kentucky

Aria Summers, majorettes/twirlers, from Lebanon, Indiana

Ryanne Svec, piccolo, from Lexington

Carson Sweeney, clarinet, from Mason, Ohio

Ian Tarter, clarinet, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Mickey Taylor, trumpet, from Lexington

Jacob Taylor, mellophone, from Shebyville, Kentucky

Colin Teague, sousaphone, from Versailles, Kentucky

Emalias Terry, mellophone, from Ocala, Florida

Alex Thomas, trumpet, from Russell Springs, Kentucky

Chey Thomas, color guard, from Nicholasville, Kentucky

Ryan Thompson, mellophone, from Louisville, Kentucky

William Thompson, mellophone, from Springfield, Kentucky

Sheldon Throckmorton, clarinet, from Georgetown, Kentucky

Alix Tibbs, alto saxophone, from Fort Thomas, Kentucky

Bennett Titus, baritone saxophone, from Crestwood, Kentucky

Randall Tomlinson, percussion, from Alvaton, Kentucky

Liam Tourinho, baritone saxophone, from Louisville, Kentucky

Nile Trice, color guard, from Maryland Heights, Missouri

Paige Tryon, baritone saxophone, from Mount Washington, Kentucky

Mitchell Urban, mellophone, from Carmel, Indiana

JoJo Verrett Jr., trombone, from Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Becky Viscusi, mellophone, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Josh Vitai, sousaphone, from Winchester, Kentucky

Jesse Vite, clarinet, from Parksville, Kentucky

Liv Wagoner, color guard, from Cincinnati, Ohio

Nick Walden, percussion, from Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Andy Waters, trumpet, from Lexington

Caleb Weber, clarinet, from West Lafayette, Indiana

Hannah Wells, clarinet, from Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Tatyana West, color guard, from Indianapolis, Indiana

Danielle Weyl, clarinet, from Newark, Delaware

Madison Wilcox, majorettes/twirlers, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Wren Williams, majorettes/twirlers, from Evans, Georgia

Mikala Williams-Ellrodt, majorttes/twirlers, from Orlando, Florida

Sierra Williamson, trumpet, from Louisville, Kentucky

Jacob Wilson, trumpet, from Purcellville, Virginia

Sally Wilson, percussion, from Jamestown, Kentucky

Zach Wilson, trombone, from Richmond, Kentucky

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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