Kelly Guthrie: The Experience

Everyone talks about their “band family” and how the friendships they have made through marching band are going to last them a lifetime. However, only a few of us are born into these special band families.

Kelly Guthrie, an MV senior studying Criminology and Political Science, grew up with parents who were both in the Marching Virginians when they were in college.

“I have been a Marching Virginian since I was born,” Kelly said.

As those of us who come from Hokie families can attest, there’s no getting around that VT spirit. But not all of us can say we saw our parents perform in Lane Stadium.

Guthrie family trip to MV alumni day circa 2005; Source: Kelly Guthrie

Guthrie family trip to MV alumni day circa 2005; Source: Kelly Guthrie

            Growing up, Kelly came to several MV alumni days with her parents and was able to live out the MV experience well before her freshman year at Virginia Tech. “I grew up around my parents’ college friends and I knew that I wanted friends for life as well.”

            In middle school, Kelly was told she had to join a school activity and knew that band was the obvious choice. “My dad was a drummer, and I really look up to him. That influenced me a lot in my decision [to become a percussionist].” After 7 years of playing in middle and high school, it was time to take her talents to Virginia Tech.

“I decided while I was in middle school that, when I made it to college, I was going to be in the Marching Band.”

Rank 69, the managers, goofing off at Bristol Motor Speedway before The Battle at Bristol; Source: Kelly Guthrie

Rank 69, the managers, goofing off at Bristol Motor Speedway before The Battle at Bristol; Source: Kelly Guthrie

When Kelly came to Tech, all she wanted was to do well in classes and make the marching band.

“Well I got cut from the drumline, and then I tried out on a whim for color guard (which I had never done before), broke my nose, and got cut from that as well.”

While she was mourning the loss of being able to perform with the band, she received a call from the head manager asking her to be a Marching Virginians manager. Although it was not what she had planned, it set Kelly on the course for the rest of her college career.

“The dynamic of being in a section of not just 36 of the same instrument, but a group of 2 tubas, 4 nets, some trombones, some tones, etc. made for such a fun and unique experience. There is truly nothing like being in Rank 69.”

As a manager, Kelly fell in love with organizing and being a part of the band, even if she wasn’t performing in Lane Stadium. When the opportunity arose the next spring to be Head Manager, she immediately jumped in. Even though she soon realized that she had no clue what she was doing, she learned quickly and had lots of fun along the way. Kelly held the position again the following year and faced new challenges as our football team improved. 

2018-2019 MV Flag rookies; Source: Kelly Guthrie

2018-2019 MV Flag rookies; Source: Kelly Guthrie

Before her senior year, Kelly made the decision to work with the color guard captain to learn how to perform and, after putting in hours of hard work, she finally made the band.

“It was WEIRD. I was a rookie, returner, and leadership. I cried when I saw my audition number on the paper but then I did what I always do, and I got to work. I worked hard every day, because I picked up flags in a couple months, whereas most of the beautiful ladies in my section did this all throughout high school.”

Kelly shared how it feels to follow in her parents footsteps as a member of the Marching Virginians.

“Most people would be embarrassed but I am so incredibly honored and humbled by the opportunity to follow in their footsteps but also make it my own. My parents have given me so much in life and I am truly grateful every day. My parents were Dave Mckee’s very first students and I got to be one of his very last students at Virginia Tech and that is truly special and I am honored.”

-Kelly Guthrie, Marching Virginian