In 1887, when Kansas State University was known as Kansas State Agricultural College, 15 student musicians became the first university band. Today, the K-State Marching Band, or The Pride of Wildcat Land, includes 400-plus musicians, twirlers, a color guard and the Classy Cats dance team.
As its nickname implies, the band is known for embodying the pride that the K-State community imparts in everything it does, including its work ethic. Students from every college on campus rehearse for hours on end in the heat of summer and the bite of winter to create exciting marching routines.
Recently, the band's dedication was recognized with the 2015 Sudler Trophy, which is given every two years to recognize a marching band in the U.S. that demonstrates the highest musical standards and innovation, and makes important contributions to advancing performance standards.
"I have watched other band programs be recognized with the Sudler, and I always thought we could do that at K-State," said Frank Tracz, director of bands. "This award is simply recognition and validation for the 'K-State Way,' and I could not be more proud of these kids and what they stand for."
The band is used to going above and beyond. When "Modern Family" actor and K-State alumnus Eric Stonestreet wanted to celebrate his parents' 50th anniversary in 2014, he called on the marching band for a one-of-a-kind surprise. On a day off, the band traveled to Kansas City to perform for the couple.
The Pride's passion and enthusiasm does not go unnoticed.
"Our marching band is a point of pride for all of the K-State nation," said John Currie, K-State athletics director. "Dr. Tracz, his staff and the students work so hard every day to provide a world-class experience for our student-athletes and fans. They are an integral part of the success of not only our athletics program, but also the entire university community."
Every year, the band represents the university, community, state and nation at home games, NFL exhibition games, bowl games, parades and countless charity events. When you love what you do, it's easy to go the extra mile.