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WVU Mountaineer Marching Band to perform on Saturday


The Preston County News and Journal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.  — “Country Roads” and “Hail West Virginia” will be ringing through the streets of Kingwood on Saturday, Sept. 30, as the West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band performs at the 76th annual Buckwheat Festival.

Among the 350 members of the band are eight Preston High School graduates who will be returning home to perform in front of their friends and families.

WVU senior and 2014 Preston High School graduate Ben Robinson will be coming back home to march a familiar path around Kingwood.

“There are going to be a lot of emotions coming back,” Robinson said. “At PHS, we were always at the end of the parade, but we were always there.

“Now I’m coming back as a different band, with a different mindset,” Robinson said. “And to perform in front of the hometown crowd is an honor because not everyone has seen the Pride of West Virginia perform in person, and this will be their first look. It will be nice.”

WVU freshman Matthew May of Arthurdale has only been performing with the band for two months, but he’s looking forward to coming back to Preston County to perform.

“It is kind of exciting to go back to where you are from,” May said. “We are getting to show our growth as a person from high school. And we are experiencing something new, yet it has the familiarity.”

Robinson, May and Michael Dumire of Bruceton Mills all said it is surreal playing for “The Pride of West Virginia.”

“It has been a great experience being part of the band,” said Dumire, who is a senior this year. “I have no regrets, and my audition was a spur of the moment decision — but I’m glad I did.”

Robinson, who said he grew up going to the Keynote Concerts at WVU, added there was a build up through high school the closer you got toward the goal of auditioning.

“I kept thinking I will be a part of that, and when I got here, it all came together,” Robinson said. “It clicked, it is everything I hoped for and it feels right.”

While May is just beginning to make his memories, Robinson and Dumire have four years to look back on and reflect.

“There is a lot of camaraderie in the band and my section,” May said. “This is a unique and special experience, and I have made a lot of friends.”

Dumire said his favorite memory is running out of the tunnel onto the football field for the first time.

“You are just going to run onto that field, and you are hoping you don’t trip or do something wrong,” Dumire said. “Nothing rivals that first game.”

“I looked at the freshmen this year getting ready to run onto the field, and you can see the excitement, nervousness and all types of emotions,” Dumire said. “It is an adrenaline rush, and then it’s over and you have your first entrance into the field done.”

Robinson said he looks back on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 2016, and puts that in one of his top performances.

“I’m not sure how to describe it,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t something I honestly thought I would ever be able to do. When can you go and perform in front of the millions of people in person or the millions watching on television.

“We are representing West Virginia when we go to places,” Robinson said. “We show people the caliber of excellence that is West Virginia and West Virginia University. This is our chance to show people who we are.”

In addition to their parents, the band members owe a debt of gratitude to PHS Band Director Debbie Westbrook and Assistant Director Shawna Bloom.

“They always expected the best out of us,” Robinson said. “They always believed in us, encouraged us and wanted us to get to the next level.”

“They made you want to get to that next level and want to continue,” Robinson said.

The Mountaineer Marching Band will be performing on the football field at 2 p.m. Saturday after marching in the Farmer’s Day Parade.

Staff Writer Theresa Marthey can be reached at (304) 276-1127 or by email at [email protected].

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