Marching Virginians return to a home of their own
August 17, 2015
Over the last 41 years, Virginia Tech’s highly acclaimed marching band has performed for hundreds of nationally televised football games and parades across the United States. When the Marching Virginians – 330 members strong – return to campus this week, they finally will have a place to call home.
The new Marching Virginians Center, located on Southgate Drive within sight of Lane Stadium, features a 7,000-square-foot pavilion, restrooms, and a full-size synthetic turf field with lights and public address systems. There is also storage space that includes shelving appropriate for the smaller instruments and places to hang the tubas.
“The band has lived a nomadic life,” said Dave McKee, its director for 30 years and senior instructor in the School of Performing Arts.
“The MVs have practiced at the far end of the recreation fields, inside the track, crammed into the recital salon, under the stadium, in McBryde 100, and in the back gym of Cassell Coliseum,” said McKee, “or a combination thereof in any given season.”
That’s just a list of practice locations. Instruments have been stored in multiple facilities – including a former Kmart on South Main Street, the old security building, the basement of Owens, and, most recently, below the baseball bunker.
Not only were most places far afield and hard to access, McKee pointed out that all of those places “were Port-A-John maintained.”
“This entering rookie class will have something that no other Marching Virginian has had before: four seasons of the collegiate marching band experience with a centralized athletic band headquarters,” noted Evan Fitts of Chester, Virginia, a junior majoring in political science who plays the clarinet and serves as the band’s public relations officer.
“Because of The Marching Virginians Center, the MVs now have a building to call our own. At last,” Fitts said, “there is a home for the Spirit,” referencing the band’s other moniker, “The Spirit of Tech.”
The facility was built with help from numerous donations. More than 280 people contributed to help make the project possible, including Michael Sciarrino. He played tuba in the band while attending Virginia Tech in the 1980s, and was a driving force in the effort to have the building named for the band’s former director and current arranger, James Sochinski, and McKee, after their retirement from the university.
“The marching Virginians building is a fitting tribute to the dedication of Dr. James Sochinski and Mr. David McKee, both of whom have passionately served the band for more than 30 years each,” said Sciarrino, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and lives in Winter Park, Florida. “It’s hard to imagine another part of the university that has had such continuity of leadership.”