Mills and McNeill Celebrate Milestones

Jason Reider

Twenty-five years is a long time. So is twenty. However, the UCMB has progressed an incredible amount in this period. The dynamic duo at the head of this change is none other than Dr. David Mills and Mr. Marvin McNeill. In reality, trying to sum up all they have done for this band is impossible. They have put everything into making the UCMB the best it can be, and continue to do so, pushing it to greater heights than ever before. Since this indomitable pair began at UConn, the UCMB has performed nationwide in bowl games, from Michigan to North Carolina, from New York to Alabama, from Indiana to Arizona. The UCMB even played in Toronto, Canada, winning the Battle of the Bands. So maybe the last couple decades are a drop in the bucket in the long and illustrious history of the UConn Marching Band, but they were nothing short of extraordinary. The UCMB may be the Pride of Connecticut, but Dr. Mills and Marvin are the Pride of the UCMB.

In the last twenty-five years, the UCMB has changed a lot. Dr. Mills was able to watch and have a large impact on how UConn has progressed. As he says, first of all, the marching band has become a lot bigger, however even greater is the change in the band’s attitude. Back in the earlier days of the band, there was a lot more of a focus of the things around band, rather than the band itself. However, recently more and more of the students joining the UCMB have come with expectation working hard in order to make the band great. With everyone putting in the effort within the established system, the band has been able to progress in leaps and bounds. The irony is that there is still a large focus on the outside aspects of band, such as the fraternity and sorority, and Lip-Sync, however this has only served to strengthen the bond shared between band members and push them, and the organization as a whole, to even greater heights. In addition, the increase in competition to attend UConn has brought in even more high achieving members, once again supporting the strong work ethic that has become the core of the UConn Marching Band.

When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Dr. Mills is very proud of the band’s continuous growth in both quality and quantity of quality. That is to say, that the focus of everything the band does has shifted towards the goal of being a great band, along with the acceptance and willingness to do what it takes to achieve this ideal. With the whole band working together to share in the work, they all can take part in the reward of being a better band. Along with these, the spirit of the band is as high as ever, and it helps to spurn on the entire group to reach new heights. Another source pride is how student driven the UCMB has become. The students are entrusted with leadership positions, giving them a feeling of ownership in the band, which in turns leads the group as a whole to become tighter. It’s a hallmark of what’s been done in the past that students can get so involved with the organization and be an integral part of its continued success.

It does beg the question, with so much progress having occurred in the last few decades, how much will change in the future. What will be different about the UCMB in the next twenty five years? When considering this prospect, Dr. Mills discusses how there are decisions that will need to be made. For one, it will need to be decided whether the band will continue to grow in numbers, or if it will be forced to take some measures in order to limit the size of the group, however Dr. Mills believes there should be continued moderate growth. It will also be important for the UCMB to continue to refine both its style and presentation. The shows must be continue to remain current, as well as being both intricate and challenging for members and entertaining for their primary audience, attendees of UConn Football games. One method, which Dr. Mills believes will help to encourage this spirit of entertainment was to shorten the exhibition show, which gives more time for the band to learn a greater variety of unique shows, which will, quite simply, be cool for the audience to see. With its current resolve, there is no doubt that the UCMB will continue to improve in the future, with no end in sight.