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The band was founded in 2006. The committee responsible for bringing the band into existence was chaired by Jerrold Stein, then Dean of Students and now Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Perry Goldstein, Director of the Undergraduate College of Arts, Culture, and Humanities; Jim Fiore, Athletic Director; and Josh Cheuvront, Graduate Student Assistant. They named John Leddy to be the first Director of Athletic Bands.

A three-day Band Camp was held September 1-3, 2006. During this camp 20 courageous and enthusiastic musicians came together and formed an indelible bond. They survived marching practice during the height of tropical storm Ernesto and presented themselves for their first public performance in front of 5,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students during the New Student Convocation on September 3.

History 2006

The band had its debut performance during Wolfstock 2006, Homecoming weekend on October 6 and 7. Band uniforms arrived on October 3 and members were quickly fitted over the next two days. The band performed at the Homecoming Parade through Wolfstock Village and at the football game. Navneet Singh was selected to be the first drum major.

Band members grew quite close to one another and organized a student-run pasta party the night before the final football game on October 28. The band's first season formally ended with a banquet held in the beautiful Wang Center right on campus on November 28, 2006, with president Shirley Strum Kenny in attendance.

A year for growth

Many changes accompanied the band's second year. The season with its first first full week of band camp including a special two-day workshop for the leadership team (section leaders and executive board). The program was proud to open its newly renovated band space which had storage for all instruments and uniforms as well as a lounge and practice space for band members.

During the football season the band performed a pregame show featuring the fanfare from the film “Ben-Hur”, the Victory Song, the bands first drill, and the Stony Brook Alma Mater. The band performed two halftime shows at five games – a Blues Brothers show and a Billy Joel show.

The band's size more than doubled in its second season to 70 students and the program added a color guard and color guard instructor, Jen Bigus. The program also added a drumline instructor, Jeffrey Butterfield. The staff still included graduate student directors Josh Cheuvront and Shayna Corapi. This season was also the first with Assistant Dean of Students Jeffrey Barnett supervising the Athletic Bands program.

Once again, the band performed at all home men’s and women’s basketball games and traveled to the America East Tournament for both teams in March. In addition, the band was named the official pep band for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. This was an exciting partnership as the band played at all home Dragons games in Nassau Coliseum. The Dragons presented the band with its first scholarship donation of $25,000.

"So Far So Fast." Past President Kenny often used this expression to describe the rapid growth of Stony Brook University and its quick ascension into the realm of elite research universities. The quote can also be used to describe the progression of the marching band from the "original 20" band members at the first band camp in August of 2006 to its status today. The program reached an important milestone late in July of 2008 when registration for the marching band (MUS 268) reached 100 students. 

Establishing Traditions

After two successful seasons, the Stony Brook Marching band was well on its way to becoming an established part of the Stony Brook campus and community. In the immediate seasons, the band established many of the traditions that are still with us today.

In 2008, Stony Brook’s cheer and dance team joined the band for performances on game days, like the parades, pregame and halftime shows. And in 2011 the band had its first ever Athletic Bands tailgate. But the biggest tradition established in the band’s third season was it’s name. In February of 2009, the Stony Brook Marching band official took the name “The Spirit of Stony Brook.”

The fall of 2009 also saw some new changes for the band, First and foremost, Shayna Stahl was officially appointed as the first Athletic Band Coordinator under Director John Leddy. Stahl transitioned into a more permanent member of the organization after serving as a graduate student assistant since its formation.

Also in 2009, the Spirit of Stony Brook saw its first high school band day. The band was joined on the field and in the stands by the bands from Longwood High School and Brooklyn Automotive High School. The following year, the Rocky Point High School marching band joined the bands from Longwood and Brooklyn Automotive High School for a second successful band day. This tradition continued through 2012 with students from Rocky Point, Ronkonkoma, Manhasset, Mechanicville, Farmingdale and Connetquot all joining the Stony Brook Marching Band on the field and in the stands.

The marching band also started performing at parades under Leddy and Stahl. In 2011, the Spirit of Stony Brook marched in the Columbus Day Parade in New York City for the first time. The band performed at that parade for the next three years.

On top of parades, the Spirit of Stony Brook has also performed in a few high profile performances. First in 2010, the band performed at a filming of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, with the other spirit groups and Wolfie. The band led the famous bus to the house and participated in the iconic “Move That Bus” chant as the new home was revealed. Then in 2011, nine members of the marching band traveled to Brooklyn and participated in a New York State Lottery Commercial that began airing in May that year.

Along with football, basketball has been an important part of Stony Brook Marching Band. in 2011, the Spirit of Stony Brook love and support of those teams solidified as the band cheered on the Seawolves to their first ever Men’s America East Championship appearance. Since then, the band has enthusiastically supported the basketball teams at all their home games. And has also made numerous appearances in the postseason including five appearances at Men’s America East Basketball Finals and one at the Women’s Finals in 2014.

But all that success did come under a few different directors. After seven successful seasons, founding director John Leddy stepped aside from his role in the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band in 2013. He became the Director Emeritus and is still that role today.

A New Perspective

Shayna Stahl, the then Athletic Bands Coordinator, was named director for the 2013 marching season. She saw success as the director of the program, growing the band to it’s largest size ever and traveling to more games, including UCONN and Villanova for football and Iowa with the basketball team.  

Also under Stahl, the band’s involvement with the basketball teams only grew. In October 2014, the Spirit of Stony Brook played at the ribbon cutting ceremony and helped unveil the newly renovated Island federal Credit Union Arena. The next year in that arena the band played and cheered Stony Brook Basketball to its first America East Men’s Basketball Tournament win and NCAA berth. A select group of band members traveled alongside the Men’s team to Des Moines, Iowa for their first NCAA tournament appearance ever.

Outside of football and basketball, the Stony Brook Band also performed in a Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime commercial in 2014. And in 2015 during Stony Brook’s annual fall concert the band performed “Shut Up And Dance” alongside Walk The Moon. Also in 2015, the band went viral on instagram performing the thriller dance during a halftime show on Halloween.

In 2016, Vincent Malafronte, who had been heavily involved with the band, was appointed to Athletic Bands Coordinator.

At the end of the 2015-2016 season, after ten years of service to the marching band, Shayna Stahl decided to step down as band director. She went to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Washington. Before she left for the west coast, Stahl helped facilitate Stony Brook’s involvement in parades again having the Spirit of Stony Brook represent SUNY schools in the annual New York City Pride Parade.

A Look Back and A Vision Forward

In the summer of 2016, Dr. Christopher Parks was chosen to take over as the Director of Athletic Bands after Stahl. Before coming to Stony Brook, Parks was the Director of Athletic Bands and Music Organizations at Boston University for 10 years. During his time at BU, Parks was actually contacted by John Leddy for input on starting a marching band at Stony Brook University. Parks was the first director of the Athletic Bands who was not involved from the band’s inception in 2006.

The band’s progress did not falter after Parks became the director and some old traditions were revived. The band had its first travel football game in two years in 2016 when we performed at a Temple Football game in Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. And high school band day came back with the Three Villages Marching Band joining us in November.

Some new ideas also took root. Starting in Fall 2016, a new leadership position was added to the band. The field techs assist in teaching marching technique and drill throughout the fall semester. In October 2016, the entire band performed at the Mineola High School Home Show, the first time the entire band performed off campus not during a parade. And speaking of parades, the band played at the 2017 NYC Pride Parade for the second year in a row. The band also increased its involvement in the school's main commencement ceremony, going from a few trumpet players to over 20 brass players beginning the procession of the most valuable guests. 

At the end of the 2017-2018 academic year, Dr. Parks resigned his position as the Director of Athletic Bands. He left to have more time to spend with his wife and daughter. 

Learn More About Each Year of the Marching Band Below!

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