When you watch the West Virginia University football games online, you also get an opportunity to hear the WVU marching Band. Today’s award-winning band began its march into history as an eight-member, all-male ROTC band in 1901. Walter Mestrezat was the first director. The military band was an important component in these days because every male student was required to take courses in military science, ROTC. Therefore, the band played at a host of events providing military styled music for parades and revues. ROC bands were the forerunners of today’s college marching bands since they were trained to play and march – military style – while playing for the crowds gathered at a football game as half-time entertainment.
The use of the ROTC band had to be strictly related to military functions. It was q925 when 11 non-ROTC students joined the band. These non-ROTC members didn’t share in the same benefits the others realized. They decided to start another marching band and successfully petitioned to perform at a football game halftime. Then University President Frank Trotter though that two bands was going to be a problem claiming the “rebel” band had to be a legal student group. The group quickly formed a Greek fraternity that is now the Omicron Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi. It took years before the two bands finally merged as one becoming the WVU Marching Band.
The single most important event in the WVU marching band history came in 1997 when it was awarded the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Trophy. This trophy is awarded honoring the recipient as the Most Outstanding Collegiate Marching Band in the nation. The award was confirmation that all the hard work of both present and former band members, staff and directors had paid off – handsomely. Trophy presentation took place at the ’97 Homecoming game with more than 5r00 band alumni present.