Members of the UC Davis Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh! began celebrating the Aggie football team’s Great West victory over North Dakota a day earlier when they found out they would be wearing new uniforms for their first time in 27 years.
Anticipation was palpable at Band-uh! practice throughout the week, said Band-uh! director Thomas Slabaugh II.
“The whole week leading up to the game and tracking the package was this incredible excitement,” he said. “They looked great and performed great, a lot of excitement came from the feeling of wearing something new.”
The changes made the Band-uh! feel more like a part of UCD sports, said Band-uh! member Arbel Bedak.
“It was amazing, we were completely uniform and very clean,” he said. “We looked like a division of athletics and were the same colors as the cheerleaders and the football team.”
The Band-uh! purchased 200 uniforms from DeMoulin Uniform Company, at a total cost of $124,000. Seventy thousand came from the Band-uh!’s alumni endowment, and the department of Campus Recreation matched their contribution with $80,000 dollars – the remainder of which went toward instrument repair or replacement.
The old uniforms were three-piece and made of wool – making them uncomfortable in both hot and cold weather. The worst feature of wool is its smell-retaining property Slabaugh said.
Several of the uniforms became hazardous to student health over time.
“One student ended up getting a bad staph infection, and I have a scar [from the uniform] from a past Picnic day that still hasn’t healed,” he said.
Slabaugh added that there had been an urgent need for new uniforms as long as he has been at UC Davis. Students had developed a prototype and contacted a uniform company to start designing a new one, but the process was moving at a glacial pace.
“The prototype had to go through three different councils, and it took us three years of jumping through hoops before the uniforms could actually be produced,” Slabaugh said.
Having recognized the difficulty of attaining improvements with UC funding, the Band-uh! is stepping up its fundraising efforts and is holding its first ever Gal-uh! this Friday to raise money. The event begins at 6 p.m. in the ARC ballroom, and is a formal dinner and silent auction to celebrate the Band-uh!’s contribution to the campus and community, said Bedak, the Gal-uh! committee chair.
Among the items up for auction are a football from the first game of the year, adorned with signatures from the entire team, and a basketball signed by the women’s team.
Head football coach Bob Biggs highlights the list of scheduled speakers.
“They love having us out there, and we love being there,” Bedak said. “And they knew that we had financial issues this year and wouldn’t be able to travel to their away games, so they really wanted to do anything that they possibly could to help us and make sure that doesn’t happen again.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.