by ANNELISE MILLER, CSU Communications Student Intern
‘We’re called the Machine not just because it sounds cool, but because there are so many gears (members) that make it work. And without those gears, we can’t function. Without our members, we have no Machine.‘
The retooled Maverick Machine is 10 years old and geared for spirited success and growth.
From its start in 1929, the University’s original marching band was the “Machine” which drove the spirit of what was to become Minnesota State Mankato. But by 2009, after nearly two decades of budget cuts, the spirit band marched into history.
It would remain in its own state of parade rest for four years before President Richard Davenport resurrected it in 2013. The rejuvenated Maverick Machine energized by Director Michael Thursby has grown to 150+ “gears” as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
A Maverick Machine Homecoming Celebration for the band’s 10th anniversary begins with a Friday, Oct. 6, rehearsal that will include returning Maverick Machine alumni from the past 10 years. A 6:30 p.m. social will follow at the Loose Moose Saloon & Conference Center in downtown Mankato. Alumni are invited to join the Maverick Machine at the Homecoming Day football game at 2 p.m. at Blakeslee Stadium as well as that evening’s exhibition hockey game
Maverick Machine History and Rebirth
In 1929, it all started with a small group of passionate musicians who wanted to bring the energy of live music to the athletic events on the Mankato campus. They laid the foundation for what would become the current Maverick Machine.
In 1960, Dr. Clayton Tiede coined them “the Machine.” By 1980, under the direction of Dr. Stewart Ross, the band reached new heights, starting to perform at sporting events. However, in the 1990s, the program faced budget cuts, and, by 2009, it faded away.
Since its revival in 2013, the Maverick Machine has grown from 30 members from across the campus community to 150 members this fall, with over 200 students enrolled in the program this academic year.
“In the last 10 years, we have grown so much in many different ways,” says Thursby, the Music Department’s Director of Athletic Bands and Percussion.
The program has expanded beyond a single band, now encompassing a color guard, brass band, drumline, and more. The Mav Machine now annually attends over 80 events, showcasing the talents of all its “gears.”
‘The Impact is the Students’ – Micheal Thursby
‘They bleed purple and gold and would do just about anything for this institution. These students are the first at every event and sometimes the last. They are there when we win and when we lose – they are true Mavericks through and through.’-Michael Thursby
The true impact of the Maverick Machine lies in the students.
“This program is and always will be about the students involved and the connections they make in their ‘home’ of Mankato,” says Thursby, “They bleed purple and gold and would do just about anything for this institution. These students are the first at every event and sometimes the last. They are there when we win and when we lose – they are true Mavericks through and through”
Gabriella Sanchez, drum major and the band’s TikTok manager, reminisces on how when she came to this new city and school. Starting a new chapter in her life, she was reserved and anxious until becoming one of those “gears” in the Machine.
“I instantly knew this would be my home away from home,” she said. “I joined the Maverick Machine because I enjoyed marching band in high school and wanted to continue in college. Little did I know how much it would impact my life. Being in the Machine has allowed me to grow not only as a musician but also as a person.
Last Homecoming, Gabriella was named Homecoming Royalty and appeared in her crown and gown when the Maverick Machine took to the field for the Homecoming halftime show.
Entering Homecoming in her senior year, she can see how much she has grown.”The Maverick Machine has allowed me to meet my best friends, travel the world, and has allowed me to be myself.”
A Fun and Dedicated ‘Dad’
‘Michael Thursby is an incredible band director. His dedication to the band is second to none. His insight and instruction are the main reasons the Machine has gotten to where we are. There’s a reason a good part of the band refers to him affectionately as ‘dad’ because he is the driving force behind everything the Machine does.’-Max Shannon
Another member, Max Shannon, added the friendship factor among Machine members.
“Being in the Maverick Machine is awesome. It’s a great way to make friends and get access to so many great opportunities whether it’s competing in the Lip Sync Battle every year (during Homecoming) or getting to march through the streets of Rome,” Shannon said.
He also expresses that Thursby has become a bit of a father figure to band members.
“Michael Thursby is an incredible band director,” Shannon said. “His dedication to the band is second to none. His insight and instruction are the main reasons the Machine has gotten to where we are. There’s a reason a good part of the band refers to him affectionately as ‘dad’ because he is the driving force behind everything the Machine does.”
[insert picture of him w/ the watermelon, text under “Michael Thursby, Director and “Dad” of the Mav Machine]
To celebrate its growth and accomplishments over the past decade, the Maverick Machine has three big events planned.
- HOMECOMING: About 75 Machine alumni are expected to return as the Maverick Machine marches in the Homecoming Day Parade on Saturday, Oct. 7, and later performs the halftime show at the Homecoming Football game.
- THANKSGIVING: The Maverick Machine will march in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade
- FEATURED: The Maverick Machine will be the featured group at the February MN Music Educators Convention.
Learn more about other ways to support the band and upcoming events here