Football game days are big at Pittsburg State University, in part because of a group of students whose talent makes the experience much more than the contest on the field.
The Pride of the Plains Marching Band at PSU is a mainstay during the fall football season, entertaining crowds at GorillaFest and at halftime, as well as performing in several parades and marching band exhibitions throughout the area.
Over the past 12 years, the band - which encompasses musicians, colorguard and dancers - has grown from approximately 45 students to nearly 190, something Department of Music Chairman Craig Fuchs attributes to increased recruitment, scholarship availability, and the hiring of additional marching band faculty.
"I'm a firm believer that the marching band and spirit squad are critical elements of game day," Fuchs said. "Fans appreciate what these groups bring to the game day environment."
This fall, marching band has taken front seat: in October, the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations hosted a reunion for past marching band members. And for the second year in a row, a member of the band was crowned Homecoming Queen. Holly Kerr, a senior trumpet major from Carl Junction, MO., accepted the crown from 2008 Queen Patricia Condiff, a senior French horn major from Broken Arrow, OKLA., who also serves as one of the band's drum majors. Both queens were nominated by Sigma Alpha Iota, a women's music fraternity.
Fuchs credits their widespread involvement with groups across campus in earning these women the crown, and says it's a great recruitment tool for the department.
"Their accomplishments are huge source of pride for us," he said. "We love to tell our students, 'Look, you can achieve things like this and be successful on this campus."