In 2013, OBU fielded its first football team in 73 years. This fall, another tradition will be revived with the "Bison Brigade" marching band debuting on the OBU campus.
The last time a marching band hit the field on Bison Hill was in 1940, the same year football started its long hiatus at OBU. While the OBU band is the oldest musical ensemble on campus dating back to 1911, the marching band only existed from 1935 until its discontinuation in 1940. Despite the marching band's absence, the long tradition of OBU instrumental music continued to thrive off the football field, under such directors as Drs. Ron Howell and Jim Hansford.
The OBU Pep Band was introduced last year in conjunction with the football season. The band primarily performed in the stands and provided halftime entertainment to football fans. In addition, the instrumental ensemble made appearances at OBU basketball games, pep rallies, homecoming festivities and student chapels.
The OBU Pep Band has now transitioned into the Bison Brigade. "The Bison Brigade will add a whole new look to university spirit," said Ryan Meeks, director of OBU bands.
"The Bison Brigade brings with it the introduction of the fight song, "Fight on OBU," and will join athletic teams and other spirit organizations as a visual symbol of the OBU community," Meeks said. "The band will create an atmosphere of excitement through outstanding musical performance and an intense spirit for the OBU community."
Joining Meeks this year in working with the marching band is new Professor of Instrumental Music and Assistant Director of Bands Justin Pierce.
Sophomore education major Kathleen Houston, from Fort Worth, Texas, will step into the drum major role last held over 70 years ago by renowned pastor and evangelist Dr. John Bisagno.
"I am very honored and humbled to serve in such a position as we add a new, yet also revived, tradition to OBU," Houston said. "It is an incredible privilege to work alongside these musically dedicated students who desire to represent OBU music and our university in the highest regard."
The band will march this year with OBU polo shirts as part of their uniform, similar to the pep band last year. They recently completed the design for full uniforms and are raising funds to purchase them. Their goal is to raise the money and place the order in time to receive the new uniforms for the 2015 season. Interested donors may contribute to the goal through OBU's University Advancement office.
"The Bison Brigade will be made up of students from a large variety of academic disciplines and diverse backgrounds," Meeks said. "The band will draw its energy and excitement from students who combine their collective talents to create a high quality visual and musical experience."
Students will participate in band camp Aug. 13-15 and throughout OBU's traditional Welcome Week to prepare for the upcoming season. The Bison Brigade will make numerous appearances throughout the year and will produce multiple halftime shows for OBU fans. Onlookers can expect to see the long-standing traditions of the university merge with the developing traditions of present-day OBU through the addition of the Bison Brigade.
Retired OBU Director of Bands Dr. Jim Hansford is excited about marching band coming back to Bison Hill. "From all appearances, Ryan Meeks and Justin Pierce are a talented and promising duo to take the band program well into the next decade," he said.