One year ago, Dr. Polly Middleton was named the Director of Athletic Bands at Virginia Tech, a mouthful of a title for the coolest job. In short, Dr. Polly, as her students lovingly call her, is the leader behind The Marching Virginians.
Prior to her current job at Virginia Tech, Dr. Polly was the Director of Athletic Bands at Illinois State University and Arkansas State University. But what lead her to be director of The Marching Virginians was her assistant directorship at Tech that started just eight years ago!
“I wanted to learn from someone who had the kind of job I wanted; I just had no idea how lucky I was and how literally I would have that chance!” said Dr. Polly. “As soon as I visited Virginia Tech, I knew it was a special place and I was so excited to start my collegiate career at such a great school!”
Dr. Polly’s mentor is none other than Dave McKee, former director with 35 years of MV experience under his belt - a daunting pair of shoes to fill! But Polly took the challenge in stride. She is the the fifth director of our 330-strong program and is the first to transition from assistant director within the program to director.
“I left Virginia Tech to get experience as a head director, so I understood the difference between the two positions,” said Dr. Polly. “I had only been away from Virginia Tech for two years, so it was fun to come back and work with everyone!”
However, not every aspect of the job is easy. Though rewarding, her biggest challenge is handling the behind-the-scene responsibilities, unseen by our audience in and around campus. No two days are the same in her position and surprises hide around every corner, but it (mostly) adds excitement to the job!
“Every job (or new activity like starting college!) has a first year, even if you’re familiar with the program,” said Dr. Polly. “It has been incredibly rewarding to come back to Virginia Tech. I know my high school self would think that what I’m doing is the coolest thing—and I do, too!”
Additionally, Dr. Polly is the first female director of The Marching Virginians. As a male-dominated industry, it is incredible to get a new perspective on the field. The idea doesn’t phase Dr. Polly, though. Everyone at Tech and around the ACC are extremely supportive and truly made her feel welcome.
“I occasionally get comments from people (usually at Bowl games) asking me who the director is, but that just makes me chuckle,” said Dr. Polly. “I don’t worry about the vision others have for a director of athletic bands. I just hold myself to the highest standard and try to do the best I can for the band!”
As you can imagine, there are a lot of cool moments that happen within the MVs. Even reading this blog only gives you a small taste of the impact this band has on its community, so it only makes sense that the woman behind it all has a hard time picking her favorite memory.
“Watching everyone in the band step up to make Hokies for the Hungry a success, or high five people on the way to the stadium, or volunteering for gigs to help make someone else’s day better is a very humbling thing,” said Dr. Polly. “This band is full of special people and alumni. Getting to know all of the talents that everyone brings to the table is a constant and pleasant surprise.”
Dr. Polly is vibrant, excited and dedicated to her job. Her energy and partnership with assistant director, Chad Reep, push this band to be its very best, but the job pushes her as well. Whether you started band in high school or have been playing since before you could walk, our director team is ready to make you the best you can be. It’s directors like Dr. Polly that truly make The Marching Virginians the band of and for Virginia Tech.
“I don’t think you can ask for much more than to be in a job that pushes you to be a better person in every aspect of your life,” said Dr. Polly. “And that’s what I have!”