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Energetic student leads 400-member Sun Devil Marching Band

December 08, 2011

After Sparky and the cheerleaders, the most energetic person preceding the football players on the field at Arizona State University each fall weekend is usually Greg Rudolph, a sophomore from Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Rudolph bursts onto the field in his black uniform as a drum major leading the 400-member Sun Devil Marching Band, a plum position he auditioned for last spring. While showmanship and musical ability are part of his job, Rudolph’s biggest role is that of a leader and a motivator of a huge group of diverse students. It’s a heady responsibility for a 19-year-old.

He plans, organizes and conducts performances and works closely with the band office on the logistics of their frequent events. He says his main job is keeping everyone excited about what they’re doing, a task that fits him to a T.

“When we run out onto the field, with the fireworks going off, it’s thrilling,” he says. “The best part is that wherever we go, we represent Sun Devil pride, and all the members and the audience feel that.”

Rudolph graduated in 2010 from Dana Hills High School, where he was a valedictorian and senior drum major for the marching band.

He received an acceptance letter from UCLA, but he had always wanted both to attend a good business school and be in a top collegiate marching band, a hard combination to find. After visiting several Pac-10 schools to watch their bands and to investigate their business programs, he attended an ASU football game one Thanksgiving weekend.

“I saw the ASU band perform ‘The Who’ show, and it just blew me away,” he says. “I knew it was a band I wanted to be part of. Then I found out ASU has a terrific, highly-regarded business school, and a new Barrett Honors College complex. I visited Barrett, and they made me feel welcome.

“UCLA felt impersonal, like I was just a number and they really didn’t want to accept any more students. They didn’t offer a marketing major. At ASU, the personal, small-school feel of Barrett along with the advantages, amenities and school spirit of a large university were unlike anything offered at the other schools I visited.”

ASU President Michael Crow has attended band rehearsals, Rudolph says, as well as their recent Pass in Review concert at Wells Fargo Arena. The ASU marching band has a long history of excellence, having won the John Philip Sousa Foundation Sudler Trophy as the best collegiate band in the nation.

Rudolph is active in Honors Devils for Barrett, the Honors College, leading tours of the complex for prospective students that are as “fun, informative and memorable” as possible, in addition to presenting at recruiting events. He says the biggest misconception high school students have is that there’s nothing to do in the Phoenix area.

“It’s funny, because there’s such a variety of things to do here. Phoenix is a vibrant city, with all kinds of sporting events and live concerts, and there’s a light rail to take you downtown. At ASU there are so many opportunities to try different activities. For a California student, it’s the perfect distance away, not too close, but close enough to occasionally go home.”

A marketing major, Rudolph plans to specialize in supply chain management. Also an avid skier and scuba diver, he hopes eventually to start his own company, putting his leadership and public speaking skills to work.

Next up for Rudolph and the marching band is a trip to the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas on Dec. 22, where the Sun Devils will take on the Boise State Broncos.

Written by Sarah Auffret