A Grand Finale

From right: John with his co-drum majors Sam Baldwin and Sam Brickfield with the Heisman trophy.

This past December, the SUMB Leadership was invited to play at the Heisman Trophy Gala in New York City. As a senior, this was a perfect ending to my marching band career. We did not have the opportunity to travel to a Bowl Game this year, but having the Gala to look forward made the end of the season just as exciting. I am sad that the entire band could not come along and perform, but it was a great experience with our dedicated and talented leadership.

In the weeks leading up to the Gala, we rehearsed the fight songs for all of the schools who had players chosen as Heisman Award nominees. As each player was recognized, we played their school’s song. This was also a very special performance for Syracuse University and the SUMB because it was the 50th anniversary of Ernie Davis winning the award. Performing the Alma Mater during video clips of Ernie Davis and hearing Floyd Little speak about him so movingly really touched my fellow band members, the audience, Heisman winners past and present, and me personally.

During the Gala, we were invited to go back stage and take section pictures with the Heisman Trophy. Not many people can say they’ve done that! After the night was over, we had some time before our bus arrived, so we walked around the corner to Times Square and played an impromptu performance for all of the people who were walking by. My final moments in an SUMB uniform were conducting my fellow band members in the middle of “The Crossroads of the World,” and I could not have thought of a more perfect finale to my 4 years as a member of the SUMB.


John Hylkema is a senior Music Education major and was drum major of the SUMB during the 2011 season.

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