Image c/o Julian Villegas
By Lillian La Salle
As May is fast approaching and April is coming to a close, the SMC Sports Band has just wrapped up an exciting season. The band has enjoyed playing for the men's and women's Basketball teams in the Las Vegas West Coast Conference and joined the men’s team for the March Madness tournament in New York. This concludes a wonderful season of basketball, and a year full of musical preparation for the St. Mary’s community to celebrate.
In efforts to focus on the artistic talents on campus, the Collegian begins their Student Spotlight pieces with a Senior in the Sports Band, Julian Villegas. This stellar saxophonist is here to expand on some of his favorite experiences from his 4 years spent in the band.
Julian has been playing his alto-saxophone for a little over 13 years and was unsure whether to major in music when he was met with the opportunity to be in the Sports Band.
Julian begins by describing a personal experience, “Picture this. It is 2019, and freshman Julian is wandering and sees the sports band booth with the former president and other exec team members. I had wanted to play an instrument even though I was unsure about majoring or minoring. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and we got really close as time went on, and the band became a nice creative outlet. I had a space where I got to play sax and I genuinely love the band and the people.”
Julian kept up his enthusiasm for the band and was excited to spend the next four years working with the SMC community. After his first year bonding with the band, he enjoyed getting to help out new and returning bandmates after getting a better understanding of how the band operated. During and after SMC went online in 2020, Julian experienced such a welcoming environment in the band that he wanted to stay for the lasting connections he had made.
Julian described some of his favorite experiences in the band as not just the actual music-making element, but the great bonding time he experienced as well.
“It’s always nice to see everyone all together. Sometimes we have a formal night and go get dinner as a group, and we also have a tradition where we all go bowling with the rival band teams. Overall my favorite part of the band is meeting kids and learning what their interests are. Getting to know the rest of the band is really important because we all usually have very busy lives, and it's hard to connect sometimes because we sit in our different instrument sections.”
Speaking of some of Julian's favorite parts of being in a sports band. Traveling with the band definitely struck a chord in him and kept him coming back year after year for the experience of traveling with his music community around the U.S. As a Sports band veteran, Julian describes a day in the life of the band when they are traveling around the states.
“We wake up around nine o clock, and I start my remote work for the admissions office. After a few hours, I start my zoom classes and meet with my professors to ensure I stay up to date with the assignments. After classes we’ll get food and work on some homework until our call time at 4:45. We all meet in the lobby and head to the stadium to set up our instruments and get tuned up while the rhythm section plays a quick tailgate. After the tailgate we’ll head back down to tune for the game and play in between the timeouts. A lot of time is spent convincing our band director to play jungle boogie!”
From the sports band perspective, the basketball games are super energetic and leave the fans feeling thrilled with the SMC team and their ability to play well together and keep the crowd engaged. Julian enjoys seeing the other bands perform because some will have stunt and dance teams as well. After the games, the band gets to decompress together and rest up before playing another game or heading back home to Saint Mary’s.
All in all, Julian's experience in sports band was made possible by all the wonderful people he got to meet. Like Julian, we all have a community of individuals who keep us excited about the college experience and coming back for more.
Madison Sciba '24,