WINGATE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The atmosphere at Wingate University football games will get a boost next year, as the school announced that it’s adding a marching band. 

Wingate said in a press release Monday a director of athletic bands will be hired over the next few months, and the first band camp is scheduled for August 2024, in time for next fall’s football season.  

“So much of this is about the game-day experience,” Dr. Jessie Wright Martin, chair of the music department, said in a statement. “A lot of it’s about building traditions. That’s going to be a big part of it: finding somebody who has a vision for the university, for what the game day looks like. They’ll collaborate with athletics, cheerleading and other student groups to strengthen the game-day experience.” 

Wingate, which competes in the Division 2 South Atlantic Conference, joins 10 other football-playing league schools in having a marching band. The university has grown to more than 3,400 students across three North Carolina campuses.

Martin has already started recruiting for band members locally, and says the director of athletic bands will ramp that effort up in the new year. Scholarships will be available for members to perform in front of the crowd at Irwin Belk Stadium. 

There is already a pep band that plays at men’s and women’s basketball games. 

Trevor Helms, a junior majoring in communication and minoring in music, plays in the pep band as well as the chamber and wind ensembles. He says movement is key to getting the crowd involved. 

“They drummed this into our heads when I was in high school: People naturally pay attention to motion,” Helms said. “Whatever you’re doing that’s moving, whether it’s a small thing or the entire band marching across the field, it’s naturally going to command the attention of whoever’s watching.”

Wingate’s football team, led by 23-year head coach Joe Reich, advanced to the third round of the D2 playoffs last year.