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April 2009 | Return to issue home
'Notes' from the Director
Well needless to say, the students in our basketball band had an absolute blast this season. I always enjoy the opportunity to take our “show” on the road and show off the students’ incredible energy and talents, so we definitely put our best feet forward at the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments last month. However, I want to take a moment to also reflect on this past football season. Despite the team’s record and the dwindling size of the crowd as the season progressed, I was so proud of the band’s performances throughout the entire season and from the many e-mails and cards (and even a posting in the “Rant & Rave” section of The Seattle Times), obviously many of you felt the same.
But perhaps what I am most proud of in regard to the 2008 season was our senior class. And believe me, I am always genuinely proud of every upperclassman who passes through our ranks, but unlike any other senior class during my 15 year tenure, this class never got the opportunity to go to a post-season bowl game. Because of that, these 48 students will always be very special to me because they continued to come back year after year, not because of the allure of sold-out stadiums or fabulous bowl trips, but plain and simply because they love the band and love the Huskies! This was indeed a special senior class!
It is with sadness but also with great admiration for these two individuals that I inform our Husky Band alumni and supporters of the passing of two men who, each in their own way, had an enormous love and subsequent impact on our band. Those of you who attended the band’s 75th anniversary back in 2004 will undoubtedly remember how thrilled we were to have in attendance Mr. Charles “Dar” Ahern. Dar was a proud member of Walter Welke’s very first Husky Marching Band in 1929. Since the reunion, I had the privilege several times of visiting Dar in his home in the Bay area. The students even helped escort him to a game in Stanford Stadium a few years ago when the Huskies were playing down in Palo Alto. Dar loved reconnecting with the University and the band in his final years and although he had no idea at the time that he had become such a unique part of Husky Band history, he relished it as it helped rekindle memories and friendships he often said he hadn’t thought about in years. Dar was just three months shy of his 100th birthday.
Unfortunately I must also relay the news of the passing of a Pac-10 icon who is likely familiar to a great many of you who were in the band during Bill Bissell’s tenure, that being former Cal Band Director Bob Briggs. Bob lead the Cal band from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. He passed away at the age of 81. During his time as director he forged a strong friendship with Bill and respect for the Husky Band. He also helped forge a relationship and level of respect between the two bands that to this day is virtually unmatched between any two university bands. Even after his retirement, Bob would always make the drive up to Seattle for the Cal game or stop over to say hello when the Huskies were playing at Berkeley. As current Director Bob Calonico stated at his memorial service, “If anyone represented the Cal spirit it was Bob Briggs!” Dar and Bob, you will both be sorely missed!
For a student update, as most of you probably know, the band has had an incredible history of outstanding twirlers over the years. This past season we welcomed freshman Catherine Watters into our band family and she amazed fans all season long with her skills and showmanship. I am happy to report that Catherine just returned from the collegiate twirling championships in Orlando where she placed fifth in the country. Catherine is driven to win the national title before she graduates and I am certain she’ll achieve that aspiration. Congratulations to Catherine!
I’ll close this edition of our E-newsletter by once again thanking all of you for your continued support of the Husky Athletic Band program and the incredible students who proudly wear the purple and gold. Your support is one of the key ingredients that continually permits me the privilege and opportunity to give the members one of the top college band experiences in the country and keeps them coming back each fall no matter what the scoreboard says or the team’s record.
April 2009 | Return to issue home