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“Building a Program from the Ground Up”

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CONTRIBUTOR

Name of Contributor: Sarah Eishen
Member Organization: Marching Aztecs Alumni Band Email: Sarah.Eishen@SDSUAthleticBandsAlumni.org Background:
• Marching Aztecs member 1986–1989; Aztec Pep Band (men’s basketball) member, 1987–2011; Aztec Pep Band and Varsity Band (women’s basketball) substitute (either trombone or directing), 2011–present; Marching Aztecs Alumni Homecoming Coordinator, 2003–present.
• First official Homecoming event, 2003 (no events other than Homecoming)
• First event had approx. 30 attendees; in 2019, 179 registered! Now 770+ in Facebook group

INTRODUCTION TO ISSUE

Our challenge was that there was no organization.

THE CHALLENGES

  • There was an organized alumni band that began in 1990 and ran during that decade but there was no cooperation with the student band nor organized event for Homecoming.
  • Until 2011, I was handling everything by myself!

THE OPTIONS CONSIDERED

In 2003, SDSU moved the athletic bands to be part of the Department of Athetics, not the School of Music and Dance. In the process, a longtime assistant and former Marching Aztecs member (and friend), Bryan Ransom, was named Director of Athletic Bands. At that point I decided that Homecoming needed to be a “thing” so I asked Bryan for a list of names. That was an Excel spreadsheet with about 200 e-mail addresses only, no names. Solution: it needed to be done so I did it!

THE OPTION TAKEN AND REASONS WHY

Many of the people who attended the first organized Homecoming “reunion” were also members of the men’s basketball band. Over the next few years, we expanded by word of mouth.
• In 2008 one of our members, an employee of our Alumni Association, formalized our chapter, SDSU Alumni Athletic Bands Chapter. This was really in name only and we really had no assistance or guidance from the Alumni Association at that time.
• In late 2009, we started a Facebook group and that is when word started spreading. People would see the event pictures and want in the next year!

THE RESULTS

By 2011, we had a full alumni drumline and colorguard. I was still in charge of almost every aspect of organizing, from securing food, shirts etc., all the money. The day of that event, an angel named Deanna Jagow saw how crazy that day was. People everywhere, approx. 100. Since then she has been an integral part of the planning that goes into this each year. Sometimes that’s what it takes, that one person! We are a powerful team.
Until the first NaoAB Symposium in 2015, all the “registration” went through me (and a dedicated bank account). Thanks to the wonderful ideas I brough home from that symposium we upped the event a notch: the Alumni Association would take over the registration for the event, collecting a small fee for each and every band alum (thus creating a better database more available to the University), the money for the catering, and day-of-event gifts for all members). All apparel and logo items still go through me.
Also as a direct result of the 2015 Symposium, we had our first raffle and silent auction and have done so since. This has been moderately successful, raising around $1000 each year donated directly to the student band.

At present I am the main contact for all things Marching Aztecs Alumni but that won’t always be the case.

THE COST INVOLVED

Since 2003, all the upfront costs have been provided by me. I order all merchandise and set the sales price of mechandise with a moderate overage to cover other “operating expenses” (like nametags). Any excess is donated to the band. Unfortunately for the obvious tax purposes, this is less than ideal. I have always kept meticulous records and have shared all the accounting with Deanna Jagow and Bryan Ransom (band director). Ultimately, I understand completely that this is going to need to change at some point.
The money for event registration as well as the BBQ is now collected and paid for by the Alumni Association.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THIS OPTION TO OTHERS

If someone is of the financial means to do so, this is not a bad option because sometimes it takes just one person to get the ball rolling!
The tax implications of this option complicate it but I’ve never kept a penny of “profit” and have been transparent with the record keeping.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • ASK FOR HELP!

WHY THIS TOPIC IS OF INTEREST FOR A VIRTUAL ROUNDTABLE

  • The power of one person!
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