Come football season, the Tyler Junior College Apache Band will celebrate its 70th anniversary year with a bold, new look.
“We are thrilled to report that the new uniforms should be here in time to premiere at the Cisco game on Sept. 23 at Rose Stadium,” said Director of Bands Jeremy Strickland, who just finished his second year at the helm of the TJC band program.
Strickland joined TJC in fall 2015 from Texas Christian University where he served as assistant director of bands.
This is the first brand-new uniform design in 14 years, Strickland said. The band experienced significant growth a few years ago, and that growth made it difficult to keep up with the demand for custom uniforms.
“It was a good problem to have,” he said. “Because of so many new kids – which put the band up to about 200 members – it was impossible to get enough custom jackets made to keep up with the growth. So, they ordered stock jackets from the factory that didn’t exactly match the existing uniform.
“When I got here in 2015, there were three different uniform jackets being marched on the field at the same time. That’s the opposite of what it means to be ‘uniform’ and that is about to change.”
What audiences will see this fall is a completely new uniform that went through 27 – yes, twenty-seven – versions to get to the final product.
“This is way more than anyone ever wanted to know about band uniform design, but there’s really a strategy to it,” Strickland said. “The white sleeves will enhance the show and experience for the audience. When we spell out T-J-C during pregame, the white will really stand out while the black pants blend into the field.
“Plus, the white, Shako hat features a white plume accented with a single, gold Apache feather. Everything is made to get the audience to take notice. Without a doubt, this will be one of the coolest looks of any collegiate group I know.”
Uniform fundraiser features Apache Band memorabilia
Retired band uniforms and hats – and even a chance to conduct the Apache Band at an upcoming football game – are just a few of the prizes being offered during TJC’s current fundraising campaign to offset the cost of the new uniforms.
“The Apache Band is such a beloved institution at TJC and in the community,” said Rob Springer, TJC director of annual giving.
“We’re so proud of our Apache Band and its 70-year legacy, and we’re hoping the community will come together and help cover the cost of these beautiful, new uniforms.”
The campaign runs through Monday, Aug. 21. To give, go to www.tjc.edu/band.
For your halftime entertainment
Apache Band drum majors for the 2017-18 season are Devin Gilbert, a music major from Tyler, and Darren Castilaw, a music major from Hudson.
“This will be Devin’s second year as drum major, and we’re excited to add Darren this year,” Strickland said. “They make a great team.”
The Apache Band will be joined on the field by new feature twirler, Beth Maddox.
“We’re excited to add Beth, a freshman from Van, to our program this year,” Strickland said. “Beth actually finished her high school credits in December, then spent part of the spring semester teaching little kids in Mexico as part of Youth With a Mission.
“Beth could be a twirler at a Big 12 school, but she came here because she felt at home at TJC. She’s an excellent student and will be in the TJC Presidential Honors Program, and she will make a great ambassador for the band and for TJC. Besides seeing her perform, people will also be seeing Beth speaking on behalf of TJC and the band on occasion.”
This year’s Apache Band halftime show will feature the music of Journey.
“We can’t wait,” he said, “We’ll play ‘Any Way You Want It,’ ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and ‘Separate Ways.’ It will be a big, loud show that will most likely feature an electric guitarist, and we’re working on having the drumline rigged with LED lighting. It’s going to be crazy.”
Who’s in the Apache Band?
Currently, 190 TJC students make up the Apache Band.
“Only about one-third of those students are music majors,” Strickland said. “It’s a common misconception that you have to be a music major to be in the band. We hear that all the time, and that’s not the case at all.”
He rattles off a list of majors represented by this year’s group: computer science, nursing, dental hygiene, sonography, gaming and simulation, paralegal, animal science, forensic anthropology, etc.
“We’re getting students from practically every area of study,” he said. “We even have an automotive technology student who will come to us for rehearsal, then go spend the rest of their day on the TJC West Campus.”
Strickland partially credits his growing student roster to the access they have to scholarship funds, including TJC’s prestigious Presidential Honors Scholarship.
“Roughly 90 percent of our band students are on some form of scholarship,” he said. “What we do is give these students an opportunity to go to college and get, on average, half of their tuition paid for by playing in the band. That’s a great deal.”
Strickland said the majority of his students hail from the East Texas region, but lately more are coming from the Metroplex area, including Forney, Garland, Mesquite and Rowlett.
The Apache Band and Apache Belles celebrate 70 years
To mark the performing groups’ 70th anniversary, Strickland and Apache Belles Director Jasilyn Schaefer are putting together a “70 Performances for 70 Years” schedule for the 2017-18 year.
Schaefer said, “In addition to giving our students a great education and performance opportunities, if there’s anything the Apache Belles and Apache Band have been about at our core for the past 70 years, it’s putting on spectacular performances for our audiences.”
“It’s a lot, but we’re excited to do this,” Strickland said. “We’ll have more information on that in the coming months.
“It’s going to be a fantastic year. Stay tuned.”