Returning students have noted that the new school year has brought a few surprising changes and additions to campus, one of which is the Red Raider Athletic Band. Led by director Steve Connell, the band debuts at the first home football game.
Steve Connell recently finished a 42-year career as head director at MOC-Floyd Valley High School. He is enthusiastic about his opportunity and new role at Northwestern.
“When I went and talked to the superintendent at MOC, I didn’t retire, I resigned,” Connell said. “I knew that God would have a plan for me for something else to do. Sure enough, I announced my retirement, and two hours later the athletic director at NW sends me an email wanting to talk about an idea he had.”
Connell and Earl Wouldstra got together and talked about the idea for the athletic band, and both decided it was worth a shot. It’s a unique opportunity to bring different students together to play music.
“Some musicians who play in the band are also involved in the music department at school, and some students haven’t played their instrument in years,” Connell said.
The band is pretty well set as for musicians, with 22 students in the band. It’s actually a few more students than Connell expected to come out for the first year. They are searching for a few specific roles, such as an electric bass player, but right now the band is “pretty close to where they want to be,” Connell reports.
The band practices every Wednesday and occasionally one other time during the week. They will get together Friday afternoons as well, before game day.
The band gives many students opportunities to come play music, but more importantly Connell sees the band as a way to serve.
“We are serving a purpose on campus. We’re going to try create more energy at games, which is what we’re here to do,” Connell said.
Connell hopes that someday the band can help the recruiting process. His ideal would be that it will not only excite future athletes, but students looking to invest themselves in music, as they now have another opportunity to play and learn about something else.
Connell really looks forward to attending the games. “I’m excited to be there and have fun, not only with the students in the band, but the students in the student section as well, and even the players,” Connell said.
He looks forward to integrating the band throughout the community. While the band is just one part of a whole, he hopes that the band will be able to bring people across campus together.
More than anything, Connell hopes the band will be fun. “I signed up for this because I thought it’d be a lot of fun, and quite honestly, it has been a lot of fun.”