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VSU marching band is 3rd in the nation, ESPN says

Free Press staff report | 10/12/2023, 6 p.m.
Virginia State University’s Trojan Explosion Marching Band is named one of the best HBCU bands in the country, according to ...

Virginia State University’s Trojan Explosion Marching Band is named one of the best HBCU bands in the country, according to newly released rankings by ESPN. The band is ranked third in the Division II/NAIA category in ESPN’s HBCU Band of the Year rankings posted by HBCU Gameday.

Important band components such as auxiliaries, drum majors, musicality, percussion, and drill/marching/maneuvering are used to compile the rankings. Judges then score individual performances based on these specific areas.

“We are very appreciative and deeply humbled by these rankings,” said Dr. Taylor Whitehead, VSU’s director of Marching and Pep Band. “It has obviously been a great year for our program, but we aren’t done yet. We still have more performances to improve our spot, and we look forward to showing the country why we are one of the best marching bands in the country.”

While VSU is currently third in the top 15 rankings, the rankings are subject to change. The list will soon be narrowed to the top 10 per division, and the top five will be revealed in November. Finally, the top two in each division will be given a chance to compete for the ESPN Band of the Year title, which will be announced in a two-hour special Dec. 15 in the Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta, according to the university.

“Our goal is to be on that stage when the time comes, showing everyone that ‘Greater Happens Here’ at VSU,” said Dr. Whitehead.

The band has had a busy year in the national spotlight. In February, it performed at the White House and on NBC’s “Today Show.” The band also performed at the National Battle of the Bands competition in Houston in August, and was featured on a Fox Sports segment highlighting the best HBCU bands in the country.