MADISON (WKOW) — The UW-Madison community is celebrating Homecoming this week. It’s the first for the new Badger Band director.
Dr. Corey Pompey took over this season, when long-time UW Band director Mike Leckrone retired after leading the band for 50 years.
Pompey says it was intimidating at first to follow in the footsteps of a legend, but he knew he wanted to be part of the UW Band legacy.
“It’s unique. This band doesn’t look like any other band that I ever seen. So from that perspective, I thought it was great. I knew that it was important and that it was a band with a great, great tradition,” Pompey told 27 News.
He sat down with Leckrone earlier this year, who gave him some good advice.
“He said, ‘Do what you know how to do’,” Pompey said. “It’s always been, you do what you know how to do.”
The Alabama native came to Wisconsin with Big 10 band experience. He was assistant band director at Penn State, then director at University of Nevada-Reno before coming to UW.
Pompey hit the ground running in August and the students say they’ve been having a lot of fun with him this football season.
“Everyone came into the season with a lot of energy and excitement about our new director,” said senior Justine Spore.
Spore has been leading the ranks as drum major, saying it was important to maintain an open a line of communication between the band members and the new band leader.
“We’re here to have a conversation, we’re here to make sure that we all continue to love and enjoy this band as much as we have in the past,” Spore told 27 News. “Trying to hear everybody out and make everybody’s voice heard before a decision is made.”
Spore says the band has been excited about playing some new tunes and learning new marching patterns and they’ve enjoyed Pompey’s leadership.
“He’s always excited to be out here with us. He’s got just an unstoppable, positive attitude, which has been really great,” said Spore.
Pompey says he’ll bring new ideas to the band, but won’t be making any drastic changes to the long history and Badgers tradition.
“I just want the students to have a good time and feel like they’re a part of the great legacy,” Pompey told 27 News. “We march well, we play well, and if we do those things, I’m hopeful that everything will take care of itself.”
While it’s only Homecoming now, Pompey says he’s also excited for second semester and the Varsity Band Concert in spring. He plans to keep production values high, but doesn’t expect to be flying through the air, as Mike Leckrone did every year.
“I don’t imagine that. But everything else is on the table,” he said, laughing.
Pompey says he’s grateful for the support he’s gotten so far from fans as he brings new performances to Camp Randall. On Homecoming, the band will perform “Modern Broadway” during half time.