By Kalloli Bhatt


Six hours before kick-off, more than 200 students and some staff gather at the practice field, more commonly known as Lot 64. All the students wear the same thing: A black compression shirt, black shorts or pants, tall black socks, and a specific type of black shoe. After stretching, the students begin moving in unison, coordinating their steps — a roll step, each one 22.5 inches long — with a minimum bend in the knees and tight abs. Not one student bobbing up or down.

This is the Western Michigan University Bronco Marching Band.

Over the course of the Fall 2022 semester, the band will memorize 17 songs for its six halftime shows and an assortment of defense and offense cheers. The ever increasing repertoire and show of school spirit even through the uniform is what makes the Bronco Marching Band a staple at football games for both the band and audience members.

Band member putting glitter on another member

From left, Rebecca Loncar and Natalie Dykstra show school spirit on game day by putting on glitter on Sept. 15, 2022. Face glitter is a big part of the Bronco Marching Band’s game day and many band sections participate.

Band member shows painted nails

Piccolo player Katy Stampor displays another way Bronco Marching Band members show their support for the football team on Sept. 15, 2022. Stampor says, “It’s my first year at Western and I thought painting my nails was a great way to show my school spirit.”

Crowd gathers at Miller Plaza for pregame concert

Families, friends, and patrons of the Bronco Marching Band gather in Miller Plaza to attend its pre-game concert on Sept. 15, 2022. Bonnie Voss, mother of mellophone player Emily Voss, listens to the pregame concert. She describes her experience as, “go[ing] to see the band and there just happens to be a football game going on.”

Bronco Marching Band stands in arcs

The Bronco Marching Band sets up for its first pregame concert of the season at Miller Plaza instead of its usual spot on Sept. 15, 2022. Spectator Nikolai Shergi describes hearing and watching the Bronco Marching Band as “mak[ing] football for me. It’s like the music is the culmination of everyone’s excitement.”

Bronco Marching Band guard performs choreography while audience cheers

The Bronco Marching Band starts off the pregame concert by playing the “Fight Song” and “Alma Mater.” Known as the “Sound of Western,” the Bronco Marching Band has made an impact on attendee Kendal VanDam. VanDam says, “[The band] make[s] games and being in the student section fun. They are also great to watch during halftime.”

Mother and Daughter dance to tune "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"

From left, mother and daughter Pam and Sophia Herr dance to the tune “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” on Sept. 15, 2022. This song, along with the other two in the Bronco Marching Band’s “Swing Show,” was arranged by Western Michigan University alumni and professor Scott Boerma.

The band and audience practice a new cheer

Audience members join in as the Bronco Marching Band demonstrates a new cheer titled, “Distraction” on Sept. 15, 2022. “Distraction” is only one of the few pieces introduced this year in order to get the football team and the audience excited about the next play.

Band stands shoulder to shoulder while singing the "Alma Mater"

The Bronco Marching Band stands shoulder to shoulder and sings the “Alma Mater” as the conclusion to its pregame concert on Sept. 15, 2022. It is tradition to end something new done by the band by singing the “Alma Mater.”

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