KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 31, 2023
This fall is a season of transitions at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
As Kennesaw State’s football team moves from one conference and classification to another and makes changes for the future, Marching Owls director Brandon Meeks plans to do the same for KSU’s marching band.
“The Marching Owls are at a pivotal point in the history of the program,” Meeks said. “We're starting the ninth season this year, and we're in a culture of transition, and it's perfect because football is doing the same thing right now. We're all transitioning for a year, and we'll all be ready next year when we move into a new conference.”
The Marching Owls have an all-time high 280 musicians representing every major on campus. In his second year as director, Meeks said he wants to enhance the program to ensure optimal crowd engagement. That starts with the early moments of game day—and the band’s march from its facility on Busbee Drive to the stadium.
“Our parade to the stadium will be more of a performance than just an event,” he said. “We’ll stop and play at different tailgating spots along the way. We’ll go into the stadium later than we usually do, because when you see the band coming into the stadium, we want you to know it’s game time. We’re ready, and our students are ready.”
Once inside the stadium, the band will play “Georgia on My Mind,” which moves from its traditional spot between the third and fourth quarters. Meeks said alumni and students love the song enough to want to hear it at games, but that it belonged in another moment. After that, they’ll play “The Star-Spangled Banner” and then take their seats behind the visitors’ bench, another opportunity to make their presence felt. He said the band will experiment with various short songs relevant to the game action—if it works, they’ll keep it in the program. If not, they’ll try something else in another game.
“We have to unrelentingly support our football team,” he said. “I want to create a true home field advantage and that means being loud and proud.”
Beyond that, Meeks said KSU football fans would have to attend the games to see what the Marching Owls have in store. He did offer the hint that the Marching Owls seek to build momentum as KSU joins Conference USA starting with the 2024-25 academic year. The men’s basketball team’s appearance in the 2023 NCAA Tournament started that momentum of crowd engagement, as the strains of the Owls’ war chant (“You don’t want to go to war/With the Owls, with the Owls”) still ring in thousands of ears.
“The nice thing about Kennesaw State is we have an opportunity here to establish some traditions,” Meeks said. “The Marching Owls are here to be a symbol for KSU, and we want to engage the crowd and create a truly amazing game day experience.”
– Dave Shelles
Photos by Matthew Yung and Judith Pishnery
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.