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News A Legacy of Leadership

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Family’s recent gift to UD Marching Band honors leadership of Heidi Sarver and Jim Ancona
heidi sarver with the drum major

The first time Sam Bisaro DeLuca took the field as a clarinet player in the University of Delaware Marching Band, she was right at home.

DeLuca, a 2010 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, fell in love with campus on her first visit and had dreams of joining a college marching band after seeing one perform in middle school, making UD’s marching band and Department of Music a perfect fit for her academic goals. Despite living in New York, her mother, Katie Bisaro bought season tickets so she could see her daughter perform regularly during the halftime show.

“There’s a picture they took at a game of Sam and the grin on her face pretty much sums up her entire marching band career. She loved, loved, loved marching band,” Bisaro said. “She loved what she was doing and knew that her goal down the road was to lead a band herself one day.”

Now band director at Newark Charter High School in Newark, Delaware, DeLuca’s hard work and enthusiasm for music in college has paid off.

“Marching band was something I always looked forward to doing,” DeLuca said. “I was a music education major, so music was my life on campus, and then at the end of the day, I could go out onto the field and bring the music to life there, too.”

Bisaro recalled her daughter — who had never participated in a serious marching band before coming to UD — said her first week of practice was more exhausting than any sport she had ever played. Later, DeLuca continued to push herself, staying in marching band throughout her time at UD, gaining experience directing and taking part in major trips to Ireland and Washington, D.C.

jim ancona inspects a bass drum

Not only was the opportunity to practice and perform music rewarding, but the experience of being part of the marching band community was important to DeLuca as well. This was in large part because of the excellent leadership of Heidi Sarver and Jim Ancona, the longtime director and assistant director, respectively, of the marching band. As mentors and teachers, the two encouraged all students to push themselves musically while also gaining skills around leadership, organization and teamwork.

“Heidi and Jim knew I was passionate about the band,” said DeLuca, who volunteered her time to help coordinate trips and manage students. “I wanted it to be the best experience for all students. After my freshman year experience of feeling so welcomed on the field, I wanted it to be as welcoming for everyone else.”

As part of Homecoming celebrations in October, UD marching band alumni joined together for a special celebration in honor of Sarver and Ancona's 25th anniversary as directors. Marching band alumni from all years were encouraged to attend the game on Oct. 26 as well as a reception to recognize the two directors for their incredible leadership and celebrate the marching band's proud history.

A special surprise of the day was the announcement of the Bisaros’ gift creating the Heidi I. Sarver and James P. Ancona Marching Band Excellence Fund. The fund will provide discretionary support for the marching band — so that students with a passion for music are able to take part in the marching band by connecting them with the resources and financial aid necessary to perform or travel.

Bisaro hopes the creation of the fund will inspire others who have a meaningful connection to music. Her own passion of music — as well as giving back to the arts — goes back to her own mother, who played piano, danced and even decided to take up the cello at age 60.

Her mother, who has since passed, was thrilled to travel to UD to see Sam play in the marching band, and that’s an opportunity Bisaro thinks all students and families should have.

“Not every kid is going to go on to be a music teacher like Sam, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a marching band and that they shouldn’t play in the marching band,” Bisaro said. “The arts are the fabric of life.”

For more information and to support the fund, visit the Heidi I. Sarver and James P. Ancona Marching Band Excellence Fund site.

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Marching band directors mark 25 years at UD with a recent gift to the program
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A Legacy of Leadership
  • 30 W. Delaware Avenue, 2nd Floor
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-4951