100 Years of Excellence

June 4, 2003

The Baylor program actually has its roots in the military. The first band -- a 28-piece regulation military band under the direction of Charles Parker -- was organized in 1903 as part of the university's ROTC program. At the end of World War I, the military division was dissolved and the organization became known as the Baylor Bear Band. During the program's formative years, which included the World Wars, directors such as R.D. Perry, Gid Waldrop and R.I. Morse provided much-needed leadership and stability. 
Although the Baylor Bear Band was an integral part of campus life, it wasn't until 1928 that new uniforms inspired a lasting name -- the Golden Wave Band. That fall, under the direction of Everett McCracken, the Baylor Marching Band introduced its new golden uniforms at a Baylor-SMU football game. In the spring of 1929, as the 43-member group made a tour of west Texas on behalf of the Greater Baylor Campaign, a reporter wrote that the band seemed to be sweeping across the land "like a Golden Wave." The name, Golden Wave Band, was born. 
The marching band began to flourish after World War II, as military veterans returned to campus. The quality of the Golden Wave Band received international recognition under the leadership of Donald I. Moore, who joined Baylor in 1948. During Moore's 20-year tenure, the band accompanied the football team to bowl appearances, represented Baylor at Baptist meetings around the world and grew to 135 members, more than tripling the size of the original Golden Wave Band.

With Growth Comes Opportunity

After Moore retired in 1969, Baylor graduate Gene C. Smith became director of the Golden Wave Band, creating halftime shows filled with energy and excitement. As the band grew, musical opportunities for all students blossomed with the creation of separate concert bands in the spring. 
In fall 1972, Richard Floyd became director of bands at Baylor that performed in two Cotton Bowls and the Peach Bowl. He also oversaw the growth of the Baylor Wind Ensemble, which developed into one of the premiere collegiate musical organizations in the United States. 
Michael Haithcock, who served as director of bands from 1982 to 2001, watched the Golden Wave Band grow from 188 members to a peak of 285 members in the 1985 and 1986 seasons. While continuing the many Baylor traditions, the band introduced the corps style concepts of marching and arranging during these years while performing at the Liberty and Bluebonnet Bowls in support of Coach Grant Teaff's outstanding football teams. The Courtside Players, a "pep" band that plays at basketball and volleyball games, also was founded under Haithcock's leadership, as was the highly successful alumni band program in 1985. As the marching band grew, the total band program also increased with the addition of a third concert band and a graduate program. 
Jay Gilbert, who came to Baylor as associate director of bands in 1988, directed the Golden Wave Band from 1988-91. Chris Knighten, a Baylor graduate, was appointed interim director for the 1992 marching season and led the band in performances at the Copper Bowl. Gerald Luckhardt came to Baylor as associate director of bands and director of the Golden Wave Band in 1993. Luckhardt's leadership prepared the Golden Wave Band for the beginning of a new era in Baylor athletics, as the University became a member of the Big 12 Conference. Luckhardt also led the band in performances at the Alamo Bowl, secured Floyd Casey Stadium as the host site for the Texas State UIL Marching Contest beginning in the fall of 1996 and inaugurated the "Golden Wave Band: In Concert" series. Jeffrey Grogan became director of the Golden Wave Marching Band and associate director of bands from fall 1997 through 2002. 
The bands now are led by Dr. Kevin L. Sedatole, who returned to his alma mater in 2002. Also a Baylor graduate, Barry Kraus joined the Baylor School of Music last year as associate director of bands and conducts the 250-member Golden Wave Marching Band and the Symphonic Band. A Baylor graduate, Kraus followed the same path as Dr. Sedatole -- coming to Baylor from the University of Texas, where he was assistant director of bands. Another Baylor alumnus, Isaiah Odajima, spent the volleyball and basketball seasons conducting the popular Courtside Players. 
As the Baylor band program moves into its next century, the School of Music will be in the national spotlight in 2003 with the airing of "Christmas at Baylor," a high- definition television special that features Baylor orchestras and choirs performing at the annual Christmas concerts. The holiday program will be available to the nation's PBS stations for broadcast during the upcoming holiday season.