The Minuteman Marching Band at UMass Amherst never rests on its laurels. It can’t. It can only remain the “Power and Class of New England” by starting each fall with redoubled dedication and determination.

“Every year we start anew,” says Timothy Todd Anderson, the band’s director. “However great one year’s group might be, the next will have its own dynamics, personalities, strengths, and challenges. We have about 250 returning members this year, and more than 130 newcomers—over a fourth of the band.”

The annual forging of that teeming mass into a cohesive unit occurs in the waning days of August at Band Camp. There, Anderson explains, “The new members learn how we operate, our traditions, and our expectations, and are integrated with our returning members. We discover what we have, and begin forging a group that will meet our exceptionally high standard.”

Central to that effort is the band’s field staff—students who teach their peers marching and music. “With nearly 400 students,” Anderson says, “we could not survive without student leadership.” Chief among them this year is band manager Michael Trehey.

“However great last year’s group was, this year’s will have its own dynamics, personalities, strengths, and challenges.”

“New members arrive a full day before the returning members, so we can teach them what it means to be a member of the Power and Class of New England,” Trehey explains. “For some students, this is their first time ever marching. The field staff helps with marching needs, teaches these new members the basics, and makes sure they’re comfortable with marching. It’s so different than any other college experience: you have almost 400 new friends before attending your first class!”

Even so, you need to come prepared to work. Band Camp is rewarding beyond words,” Trehey says, “though it can be a bit crazy at times. We’re working from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. almost every day, but it’s all in good fun.”

On Sunday, August 28, the full 2016 Minuteman Marching Band first assembled—and faced a daunting challenge. It had a mere two hours to rehearse before performing for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Somehow they pulled it off.

“It went extremely well,” Trehey reports. “The hard work of our administrative and field staffs brought this band together in just a matter of hours, doing it so well that even the governor had no idea we’d only been formed earlier that day.”

The band has gone on to appear where its most devoted fans are most likely to see it: home games at McGuirk Alumni Stadium and Gillette Stadium.