CARBONDALE - A year ago, the Marching Salukis of SIU Carbondale sported new uniforms.
This year, woodwind and brass performers will tout new instruments.
And to add to the good news and enthusiasm, the band is growing with 20 more performers than a year ago.
"Our brand new instruments look absolutely fabulous," said Director of Athletic Bands George Brozak, who is starting his third year.
The 110-member band just finished a week-long band camp, and Brozak was pleased with the rapid development.
There were no injuries, the temperatures were not too severe, and Brozak expressed his gratitude to the school athletic department to allow the Marching Salukis to practice on the McAndrew Stadium turf instead of an asphalt parking lot as done in years past.
"It's been a rough week, but it's been pretty fun. Actually, it's been whole lot of fun as I am getting a chance to meet a whole lot of people," said tuba performer Justin Laux, a junior who transferred to SIUC from Kaskaskia College this year.
Laux has had some catching up to do. Kaskaskia College did not have a marching band. He is picking up where he left off in high school and is appreciative how everyone has helped him along.
A few days earlier, the Marching Salukis practiced in Saluki Stadium and Laux described it as awe-inspiring.
"It was really something," he said.
Another transfer, Dani Robison from Murray State said she noticed how everyone connected to the Marching Salukis is "committed" to practicing hard and performing well
She was in the Murray State marching band and said her experience here was much more rigorous.
"It's good. It's worth it. There are formations and a lot of music," she said.
Brozak said football game audiences can look forward to a variety of halftime shows this year.
"We keep changing our halftime shows. We don't lock into a theme. We'll have jazz, big band and a contemporary music show. We are also doing a tribute to the rock group Chicago," Brozak said.
The new Saluki Dazzlers dance team will be performing with the Marching Salukis this year, said SIUC Director of Bands Chris Morehouse.
He couldn't hide his enthusiasm for the upcoming fall season, beaming a wide smile.
"I'm just thrilled to have George here and the progress we've made," Morehouse said.