MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band will have a new practice facility in the near future.
WVU held a groundbreaking brunch to announce the new astroturf field, which will cost $1 million. Cindi Roth, the president and CEO of the WVU Foundation said the money was raised through 1,000 donors. The Pride of West Virginia, as the band is known, should have its new field by the fall of 2022, Roth said.
“It means a tremendous amount to me as a new director coming in,” Band Director Dr. Cheldon Williams said. But, it means a lot to the students to know that they have the support of the people that have come before them.”
Having the new facility will give the band a home that mimics Milan Puskar Stadium where it normally performs on game day, Williams said.
Because it does that, The Pride can rehearse everything “exactly as it would go on game day”, he said. This will allow the band to get the shows and all of the presentations that it does for the community as polished as possible.
Right now, the band practices in an asphalt parking lot near the WVU Coliseum regularly and the parking lot of the Canady Creative Arts Center on game day.
“The excitement is there, but one thing that I know that the students are really excited about is what this is going to do health benefit-wise for them,” Williams said. “Rehearsing on asphalt, doing stretches, doing drills it wears on the knees. It wears on their joints a little bit and to have access to a facility and a surface that will be a little bit kinder to their body over time, with as much as we practice, I think it will benefit them tremendously.”
All of this will make for a better final product, Williams said, which will make everyone happy.
Roth with the WVU Foundation said this is just the first phase of the plan. Phase two is underway now and the goal is to raise $2 million.
That will be used for a building that will be climate-controlled and specifically designed for the band.
“It would actually help for uniforms,” Williams said. “It would actually help for facility and storage spaces. It would really tremendously benefit the group overall.”
Roth was one of many people who spoke during the brunch. University President Gordon Gee also spoke. They both talked about how terrific the band is and why it truly deserves to be called “The Pride of West Virginia”.
“Mountaineers come through, but there’s nothing like bandsmen and bandswomen,” Roth said. ‘They are so passionate. I think the music brings people together. The pandemic has proven that and that’s pretty evident by what we see even today.”
Roth said phase two will probably take two or three years of fundraising. But, once it’s done, it’ll all be worth the effort.
Williams said he appreciates everyone who donated because the funding will greatly benefit The Pride of West Virginia, which will in turn greatly benefit everyone who watches it perform.
“I want to say that I am tremendously grateful for the support of this community,” Williams said. “I want to say that I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues and I’m grateful to belong to such a storied institution.”