It's Homecoming!

From the “back-in-my-day’s” to the “when-I-was-in-the-band’s”, current band members learn a lot about the value of the 110, and what it really means to participate in such a strive for excellence from band alumni during Homecoming weekend—the most wonderful time of the year. They don’t call it Christmas for nothing; reconnecting with old friends, meeting past members and having a great time with the 110 family is what the Homecoming season is all about.

110 alumni of all ages and walks of life travel back to Athens for Homecoming every year for the chance to reminisce and have fun with all of their best friends from their college years. This weekend, about 400 alumni will take the field during halftime with the 249 current members. Expect a huge, face-melting sound and an incredible performance from the “old men” alumni, as the energy in Peden Stadium will be even more intense than usual since the Bobcats are taking on their biggest rivals, Miami, this Saturday.

Every 110 alumni has their own perspective and experience from their time in the band, but one thing is constant between them all: the work ethic, drive, motivation and hunger for perfection and excellence that followed them into every aspect of their lives after graduation.

Paul Aukerman – Tenor Saxophone, 1972-1976 (Dr. Lee, Dr. Socciarelli)

He’s been back for every homecoming weekend in the past 40 years except for two, when his nephews chose “the wrong weekend” for their weddings. Aukerman plans to come “hOUme” this year, however, to relive his time with the Marching 110. Every year he comes back, he’s reminded of what this group really means to him and how it’s shaped him to be the man that he is today.

“The band taught me a lot: the ensemble is the most important thing—more important than any individual. Everyone has the responsibility to help everyone else get better. Friendships last a lifetime. Give respect and you'll get respect,” says Aukerman. His son and daughter-in-law were also members of the Marching 110, as trombone players. “And always do the very best you can.”

Aukerman met his wife on campus during his college years, and after marrying in Galbreath Chapel on College Green, they bought a house and lived in Athens for over a decade. Aukerman taught high school math and computer science for 30 years before retiring, and he says his time in the 110 really helped him to be a better teacher. Now that he has more time on his hands, he comes back to play his horn with the Alumni Varsity Band during volleyball season.

“My time in the 110 was priceless,” he says. “I learned some valuable life lessons and made friendships that have lasted more than 40 years.”

Anthony Barbuto – Tuba, 1998-2003 (Dr. Suk)

This man is a hardcore OU Homecoming fan—he’s been to every single OU Homecoming since he was in 8th grade, making this weekend his 23rd consecutive one. Barbuto says he comes back every year because it’s his favorite weekend, plus he gets to relive the glory days.

“I can't explain all of the emotions of why I need to come back each year,” he says. “I can't imagine missing a year and not seeing my friends that I had marched with, and new friends that I've made since then.”

Barbuto came to Ohio University as a freshman specifically because he wanted to be a part of the Marching 110; he graduated from the university with all of the values and high expectations that the band taught him to live by. Currently, he works at the oldest Audio-Visual-Broadcast design and integration company in Ohio, and the traits he picked up from the 110 followed him there, too.

“I have an attention to detail that annoys my co-workers and I owe that trait to my years in the 110,” he says. “Why bother to do anything if you don't bother to make it perfect?”

Matt Brunner – Trumpet, 1989-1994; TA 2002-2005 (Dr. Young, Dr. Suk)

As the Director of Athletic Bands at Temple University in Philadelphia, Brunner has brought The Marching 110’s style and work ethic with him to the east coast while instructing the Diamond Marching Band. Temple’s marching band even started dancing and playing a similar style of music to the 110 during their halftime shows, showing the great influence that The Marching 110 has had on college marching bands across the nation since the debut of the Marching Men of Ohio in 1967.

“I try to not copy what the 110 does, but there is a lot ingrained into my education that makes me most familiar with that,” says Brunner. “I definitely use the same entertainment style and have the same taste in music.

”The Marching 110 is known for instilling a special kind of work ethic and motivation in its members that lasts for a lifetime. For Brunner, his experience in band shaped him into the person he is today.

“You don't come out of that band not learning how to work hard. When you learn to take that work ethic and apply it to everything you do, you will be successful,” says Brunner, is currently arranging the power-ballad for the 110’s halftime show during Band Day on Oct. 17. “I owe so much of who I am, what I do, and where I've been to the people in the 110.”

Because of Temple and OU’s conflicting football schedules, Brunner says that he has only been able to make it to two homecoming weekends in the past 8 years. Unfortunately, he will not be able to make his favorite drive down Route 50 to Athens this year, but hopes he will have the opportunity again soon.

Mendell R. Hibbard – Clarinet, 1973, ’74, ’76, ’77 (Dr. Socciarelli)

“I take the term ‘Homecoming’ literally. It's my opportunity to come to the place that made a wonderful impact on my life,” says Hibbard, now a professor at Capital University. “It seems my whole being changes for the better when I'm at OU. So yes, I truly feel that I'm coming home.”

To Hibbard, the best part of his Ohio University life was being a member of The Marching 110 family.

“My experience with the 110 has been and continues to be one of the best experiences of my life. I feel both humbled and fortunate to be a part of the brotherhood,” says Hibbard, who taught high school band for 34 years before Capital University. “Those people I met in 1973 and after remain my brothers and sisters to this day and I know that they will always be a part of my life.”

Hibbard has been involved with the 110’s alumni organization and Homecoming activities for many years now. He makes sure to come back to Athens during Homecoming weekend, and enjoys playing in the Varsity Alumni Band at volleyball games.

Mike Voytek – Trombone, 1987-1990; TA 1998-1999 (Dr. Socciarelli, Dr. Lee, Dr. Suk)

Current 110 members and recent alumni have probably seen Mike Voytek’s name in the top right corner of many arrangements for the band, including this year’s rendition of Kiss You by One Direction.

“I will always be grateful to Dr. Suk for taking a chance and giving me the opportunity to arrange music for the band,” says Voytek. “Arranging affords me the opportunity to give back in a small way to a group that has done so much for me.”

To him, Homecoming means “reconnecting with old friends, playing great music and feeling the rush of adrenaline as the crowd goes wild.” But he also looks forward to watching the current members proudly take on the 110’s traditions of excellence just as he did when he wore the never-changing uniform.

Voytek has been teaching for 23 years, and is currently a band and jazz director at Tower Heights Middle School in Centerville, OH. Because he had the chance to perform under the leadership of both Dr. Young and Dr. Socciarelli while he was a 110 member, Voytek learned a lot about hard work, preparation, determination and teamwork. And about ten years later, as he worked alongside Dr. Suk as a TA, Voytek was able to see all of the “behind-the-scenes” planning that goes into making the band as best as it possibly can be.

Now, Voytek tries to pass on the torch of excellence to his students at Tower Heights, hoping to give them a taste of the work ethic that he picked up from the 110. He says that he’ll always treasure his time in the 110; they were some of the best years of his life.

“I don’t think you can truly recognize excellence until you personally experience and participate in it,” says Voytek. “Once you get a taste of the satisfaction that comes from working hard and doing something really well, you want to continue to have that feeling in your life.”

Written by Amanda Weisbrod
**The author of this blog is a current member of The Marching 110.