Spartan Marching Band is a Family Affair for the Mackeys

Dec 28, 2018

MSU Senior Adam Mackey is the most recent member of his family to play in the SMB; he reflects on being part of a deep tradition.

It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

That’s what I say whenever I’m asked what being a member of the Spartan Marching Band at Michigan State University means to me. I can take it a step deeper, contrary to the common response from many SMB members.

I am the fourth member of my family to be in this renowned organization.

My mother, center, and I talk before the SMB and MSU Alumni Band performs Everybody’s Everything on Oct. 6 at Spartan Stadium.
Credit Andrea Mackey

  My hometown is East Lansing, Michigan. My family is full of die-hard Spartans. I’ve gone to MSU sporting events with my family since I was in diapers. Both my parents have degrees from MSU. My father works at MSU. My sister and I are on the doorstep of getting our degrees from MSU.

MSU is home for the Mackeys.

My mother played saxophone in the SMB, her brother played euphonium and their sister played mellophone. They all performed the same fight song before I was born, in some of the same stadiums and same campus streets where I am now playing. My fourth and final year as a trombone player in the SMB concludes with a Redbox Bowl game trip to San Francisco.

My mom and her two siblings decided not to make a musical career past the SMB. They all had a degree and career paths away from music. And I’m following in their footsteps.

Michigan State University and the SMB are important themes in my life. The world of sports is another, never failing to entertain and amaze a super-fan such as myself. 

I am a senior journalism major with a concentration in sports journalism. With that degree, I hope to become a sports information director for a university or sports team. My journey begins where I currently work. I am a student assistant with MSU Athletic Communications. I am dedicated to working in the office and at athletic events as much as my schedule allows.

Free time is scarcely in my schedule, as I am fully committed to being a full-time student, a member of the SMB and working at MSU Athletic Communications.

Here I am listening to defensive lineman Mike Panasiuk answer questions during Media Day on Aug. 7, 2017 at Spartan Stadium.
Credit Adam Mackey

The SMB seasons spans from pre-season camp in late August until the football season officially ends - this year on New Year’s Eve. Rehearsals every weekday and as much as 10 hours of band-related activities on home-game Saturdays cram my schedule during the season.

No matter who the Spartans are playing, a home-game Saturday for the SMB is filled with anticipation, preparation, excitement, and execution.

See my view of the “Exit” sequence in the SMB pregame show

You just saw a little bit of my view of the “exit” sequence of the SMB pregame show. Marching into Spartan Stadium before the game, performing their three shows and marching out of Spartan Stadium after the game is what the SMB is known for. However, those main components are only a part of what being in the SMB is all about.

See the SMB walking out through the Spartan Stadium tunnel for the last time in 2018

The clip above shows my view of the SMB walking off the Spartan Stadium field. We were making our way to begin marching “The Series” back to Adams Field, the place we began our game-day festivities.

This chilly and rainy November evening happened to be senior day for the Spartans. It was a day I was both excited and anxious about, one that I played out in my head numerous times.

In front of family and friends, I got to experience a game in Spartan Stadium as an SMB member one last time. I embraced every moment I could, no matter how cold or increasingly dark it got outside.

See the SMB celebrating MSU’s first touchdown of the game here

The SMB makes time for a little fun, even in a performance setting. What you just saw is my view of what the SMB does after the Spartans score a touchdown. The random and non-choreographed dancing and excitement came after the Spartans tied Rutgers at 7 in the first half. That touchdown happened to be the Spartans’ first in three games, ending a frustrating two-game streak of only field goals being scored.

See the game-winning interception as seen from the SMB 

Rutgers and MSU went down to the wire that evening. The Spartan win was saved and secured by MSU’s Josiah Scott. He intercepted a pass on the Scarlet Knights’ last possession to seal the victory. The SMB high-fived and celebrated regaining the taste of victory, as my view of that is shown above. I was relieved and thankful I could conclude my SMB career at Spartan Stadium with a win.

Now that this chapter of my life is wrapping up, I want to say thank you. I am eternally grateful for the experiences I’ve had, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met at MSU. No matter how much stress my crammed schedule exudes, I take every moment to heart. It has been a dream come true to be a small part in the histories of MSU, the SMB and MSU Athletic Communications. MSU and East Lansing will always be home, and I can’t wait for what my future holds.