By: Darrell Troie ’06, ’09 MBA
Have you ever wondered how the band’s equipment was transported to away trips? Or who picked up all the food to feed over 400 hungry college students and staff? Have you heard of a group known as UMass BandTrucking? We are devoted volunteers who make sure the equipment makes it safely to away performances, and perform many other tasks while on away trips. This is the story of how we came to be; to begin we have to go back to the 2002 Season before BandTrucking existed.
That year, there was something different about the trip to Allentown for the Collegiate Marching Band Festival. The Pit, drumline, tuba, and soundboard equipment didn’t make it, and the band had to borrow similar equipment from several other schools including Delaware and West Chester! At this time, volunteer Band Alumni would drive the trucks filled with the equipment, and the trucks were not always the most reliable. The trucks broke down on this trip, stranding the UMMB’s equipment between Amherst and Allentown. The Band Manager at the time, Justin Cole ‘04, was determined to not have this happen again. He worked on campus, driving buses at UMass Transit, and his plan was to have some fellow bus drivers, with Commercial Driver’s Licenses, drive the trucks and fully inspect the vehicles for safety and reliability on every trip.
Mr. Parks and Thom were a little anxious about this plan of having non-band folk drive the trucks with all the equipment. Justin asked his friend Jamin Carroll to help drive for the two remaining trips of the 2002 season: MICCA (back when it was hosted in Framingham), and a trip to Montreal. Jamin had played the saxophone , xylophone, glockenspiel, and piano in Elementary/Middle School and in his Middle/High School marching band, and thought it would be fun to go on these trips and support the band. The two remaining trips were a success, and Justin and Jamin looked to recruit a few more drivers from UMass Transit to help for the 2003 season. Jamin approached a few of his friends that he knew had an affinity for the band, were high-quality drivers, and would enjoy the adventure of weekend road trips. It was the birth of BandTrucking with the first four drivers in 2003, Jamin, John Gusler ‘09, Sam Westover ‘05, and myself.
The first season we only drove the two trucks, while the equipment staff drove the equipment van. We quickly realized that we had downtime while the band would rehearse, so we offered to pick up the meals with the equipment van. After that first season, the anxiety shared by Mr. Parks and Thom began to fade and was replaced with appreciation.
*Band is a place for everyone
At the time, none of us realized that we would truly become part of the band. Those first few seasons we felt a bit like outsiders looking in. As seasons went by, some band alumni joined our ranks, and slowly we felt more and more a part of the UMMB family. While 2010 was a tragic season, it was also the season where the members of BandTrucking truly felt a part of the family. Over the years our involvement increased, we took on driving passenger vans if there wasn’t room in the buses or if groups were leaving at a different time than the majority of the band. We took over driving the equipment van, after an unfortunate mishap between the van and the Delaware Stadium (ask one of us and we’ll tell you the story). If bandos brake on a trip, we take them to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room to make sure they get fixed,have a familiar face to support them at the medical facility, and get back to the band. We also grew our ranks, what started out as four of us, is now a group of over 50 people who get an email each August to sign-up to help each season.
We have been a part of the Power and Class for 16 seasons, for those who like some stats:
16 trips to Allentown for the Collegiate Marching Band Festival (there have only been 23 ever)
16 trips to MICCA Finals at four different locations: Framingham, Lowell, Lawrence, Plymouth
12 Band Managers
3 trips to Bands of America Finals in Indianapolis
3 trips to the University of Delaware (Go Blue Hens!)
2 Nationally Televised Parades (Macy’s in 2013 & The Tournament of Roses in 2018)
1 Trip to Canada (not counting Jamin’s trial season)
1 National Football Championship
We have had many amazing memories over the last 16 seasons, mostly good ones, but some sad ones as well. We have had countless issues arise on trips over the years that we usually fix on the fly without the Band being inconvenienced; such as the time a Pit truck broke down overnight near an Ohio tollbooth for several hours. Six BandTruckers and the two tow-truck drivers transferred all of the Pit equipment from the broken truck to the new truck, then continued on route, arriving at the destination on time. We may not have slept that night, but the Band didn’t find out that a breakdown had occurred until several days after the trip ended, and that’s how we like to operate! Our goal has always been to ensure that the band is able to focus on making music and performing while we handle the trip’s background logistics. Jamin puts in many hours of effort managing us all, and keeping BandTrucking running, and we couldn’t do it without him. I speak for all of us when I say we love what we do for the Power and Class and hope to keep doing it for many years. We may not have our feet together or our shoulders back, but we always have our Eyes with Pride!
As of the 2019 season, nearly 60 different people have been, or still are, members of BandTrucking. Would you like to join us? If so, click here.
There was no BandTrucking during the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We are intent on returning to actively supporting the UMMB as soon as it is safe to do so.
For more information on how you can help get the UMMB & BandTrucking back on the road, check out the information at the links below: