History of the Falcon Marching Band
The Beginning: 1923-1927
In the fall of the 1923-1924 academic year, a student named Leo Lake, and a faculty member of the Industrial Arts Department, Earl Claire Powell, established the first marching band at what would eventually become Bowling Green State University. At that time, it was known as Bowling Green State Normal College. In 1929, the word “Normal” was dropped, and it became Bowling Green State College. In May of 1935, the college was officially granted university status, and became Bowling Green State University.
Approximately twenty performers, with Powell at the head, made up the marching band, which was simply known as the “College Band.” Powell gave each member a freshman cap to wear, since there were no uniforms at the time. Powell, himself, seems to have had no formal experience in music. He had a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University, and taught high school manual training in East Liverpool and Massillon, Ohio, before coming to Bowling Green State Normal College in 1923 to teach Industrial Arts. Powell led the ensemble until the spring of 1927.
The Great Era: 1928-1954
In the fall of the 1927-1928 academic year, Charles F. Church became the first music faculty member to direct the band. The position has remained in the hands of the music faculty ever since.
Women’s suffrage won its fight as far as the marching band was concerned during the 1942-1943 academic year. For the first time in the history of the organization, women were admitted to be a part of the band. The band director at that time, Mr. Robert Getchell, was only able to direct the first half of the season in 1942, due to being drafted into the military for World War II.
The Post-war Years: 1955-1965
In 1953, Roy Weger replaced Arthur Zuelzke as the marching band director. Before coming to Bowling Green, Weger had been the band director in Durant, Oklahoma for twelve years, where he was responsible for teaching all the instruments and where he amassed an impressive reputation for the excellence of his programs and the awards his ensembles received. During the 1965-1966 academic year, Weger took a leave of absence, and never returned.
In 2006, Mike Weger, Roy Weger’s son, who was an eleven-year NFL player and was an All-American second-team selection on the Bowling Green State University football team, donated $550,000 to the University for bleachers to be built on the south side of the Sebo Athletic Center for the BGSU Falcon Marching Band. The stands are dedicated in memory of Professor Roy Weger, and are known as the “Weger Band Stands.”
The Kelly Years: 1966-1994
Mr. Mark Kelly was hired in 1966. He had both a Bachelor of Arts degree (1950) and a Master of Arts degree (1952) from the University of Iowa, where he studied clarinet. For thirteen years, he had been the band director at Centerville High School (IA). He also had experience as a band director at Clarinda, Iowa, and as an assistant to Frederick Ebbs in 1965 while Ebbs prepared his band to tour Russia. Professor Mark Kelly was notorious for demanding excellence from the marching band, and had a famous saying, which went, “The Sun Always Shines on the Falcon Marching Band.” Ironically, Kelly usually said this during torrential downpours. This saying has stuck with each director of the Falcon Marching Band since then. During Mark Kelly’s tenure, many of today’s terms and traditions of the Falcon Marching Band were created. A few of these examples are the terms Quigleys, “Right Up In There!” and traditions such as “I’m a Little Teapot” and Tuba Cheers. Kelly is credited with creating the famous Falcon Marching Band entry/pregame drill, which has only been altered slightly since its first introduction. The Kelly Instrumental Rehearsal Hall, located within the Moore Musical Arts Center, is named in his honor.
The Hayward Years: 2003-2015
In the fall of 2003, Dr. Carol Hayward became the first female director of the Bowling Green State University Falcon Marching Band. Hayward earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Capital University, and her Master of Music Education degree from The Ohio State University (1994). She later earned her Doctoral degree from The Ohio State University in 2004. Under her leadership, the Falcon Marching Band grew to over 280 members, the largest student organization on campus, and earned its own page on Wikipedia.
The King Years: 2015-Today
In the fall of 2015, Dr. Michael Thomas King became the new director of the Falcon Marching Band. A native of Michigan, Michael received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Michigan State University, and his Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from Central Michigan University. Michael later completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting at the University of South Carolina in June of 2015. King is credited with incorporating the use of social media as a way for the band to interact with its fans, as well as to help the organization reach a larger fan base nationally.
Compiled by Blake Giere