Generous donor support keeps Spartan Marching Band on the field
The combined generosity of SJSU donors and a leading gift from alumna Phyllis Simpkins resulted in more than $120,000 to refit the marching band.
May 23, 2012
If you attended a football game at Spartan Stadium in the mid-1970s, you might have heard the familiar notes of a university fight song rolling from the field into the stands: On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin! Plunge right through that line!
Those were the dark days. Funding for the Spartan marching band had disappeared, and the band had simply ceased to exist. SJSU’s marching band was replaced at games with bands from local high schools, but it wasn’t the same. The high schoolers didn’t know San José State’s fight song, and the tune disappeared from Spartan Stadium, replaced with the occasional rendition of “On Wisconsin!” or whatever else the guest bands could perform.
That the San José State Marching Band and the university’s fight song came back to the field is thanks largely to the work and generosity of alumna Phyllis Simpkins. With her husband Alan, she led the effort to save the marching band, and has supported the marching band organization in the decades since.
Recently, a leading gift from Simpkins inspired a new round of giving to benefit the marching band, which is planning to replace its uniforms for the first time in about a decade. The fundraising push combined the efforts of many SJSU donors to raise more than $120,000—enough to purchase redesigned uniforms and fund some equipment upgrades.
“Phyllis is an amazing woman. She is the reason San José State has a marching band. I can’t say enough about how much her generosity has impacted our students,” says Scott Pierson, who has served as director of the marching band since 1983. Pierson was himself a member of the band when he attended SJSU.
The San José State Spartan Marching Band is a diverse group of approximately 150 students. It performs a pre-game and half-time show for each of San José State’s home football games. In addition, the band travels to several away games—also thanks to the generosity of Simpkins. The new uniforms will be on display in time for next season.