Marching Toward the Future

Author: Krista Ruehmer

Published Date: 1/7/2020

Categories: F1RST Magazine F1RST Spring 2020 Faculty and Staff Music Students


Marching Band playing at Homecoming 2019
The Pride of the Pioneers performing during halftime at the Homecoming 2019 football game

2019 was a year of growth for the Carroll University Pride of the Pioneers marching band, and with that growth comes change and a little bit of risk. They did, after all, don their brand-new white uniform pants smack in the middle of hot chocolate season. But it’s all worth it, said Brett Keating, director of athletic bands, who joined Carroll over the summer to kick off the year of change.

Aside from the updated uniforms, which Keating says has given the band a pop of brightness and  a modern edge, both the marching band and the pep band have grown significantly during his pioneer year at Carroll. In the 2019-20 academic year, the Pride of the Pioneers grew by 70 percent, while the Pioneer Pep Band have experienced a growth of 25 percent. 

“This growth is due to the hard work and support of a network of people across campus—from leadership to student affairs to the marching band members, themselves,” Keating said. “They are the strongest and most active assets for recruitment. Under Drum Major Anthony Tirrell’s leadership, these Pioneers have done a marvelous job increasing numbers for both the Pride of the Pioneers and the Pio Pep Band.” 

While Keating and his students flourish in the midst of growth this year, he’s already looking ahead. He said he’s proud of the hard work exhibited this year as band members worked toward the group’s primary objectives: to represent the university, support the team, entertain the crowd and have fun. But there are several big-picture goals dangling before the athletics bands program as Keating looks to the future. 

“While we are intently working for continued growth in numbers, it is also crucial that we thoughtfully develop the culture within our athletic band program and its identity as perceived by the university and public,” he said. 

A few developments to be implemented next year focus on service—to the university, to the community and to the students. Keating hopes to enhance the fan’s gameday experience with more performances during the game and more fan interaction. He’s hoping to engage area school marching band programs for teaching and performance opportunities, not to mention inviting more future Pioneers to campus.

It’s also important to Keating that his students are provided effective leadership training and support applicable to life after Carroll. In the meantime, it’s life at Carroll that continues to shine for the band members. 

“The Pride of the  Pioneers have enjoyed a tremendous season,” Keating said. “These are 44 of the most incredible humans. They’re passionate, kind, enthusiastic, resilient and keen on excellence, and they have welcomed me into the Pioneer family with open arms and warm smiles. I do not possess the words to describe the gratitude and admiration I have for them.”

Learn more about the Pride of the Pioneers Marching Band

The Pioneers marched in two parades. 
The Pride of the Pioneers performed at five varsity football games in 2019.

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