Blu’s Clues

This weeks spotlight features Nathan Czech

McKenna Dirks

More stories from McKenna Dirks

3rd and Vine
April 5, 2022
Photo by Submitted
Nathan Czech, pictured in the middle, was recently awarded the highest honor a BMB member can earn.

Nathan Czech, a fourth-year instrumental music education student at UW-Eau Claire, was recently chosen as the Branden Atherton award recipient, which is knowingly the highest honor a Blugold Marching Band member can receive.

The award honors an outstanding BMB member who exemplifies Branden Atherton’s enthusiasm for the group. According to the BMB website, Atherton was one of the first people to continue in the band past the mandatory time requirement for music education students.

Atherton was killed on his 24th birthday in Oct. 2005 from a collision of a bus carrying Chippewa Falls High School marching band members, teachers, chaperones and family members. According to the website, the award honors his memory.

Czech said Atherton was the drum major for the band and was an outstanding leader. The award is in honor of Atherton and his legacy of believing in the mission of the marching band and the identity of the group, he said. BMB members vote on the student they feel most exemplifies Atherton’s traits.

“I feel incredibly honored,” Czech said. “Looking at the people who historically won that award, they have all influenced me greatly. It feels surreal to have my name on the same plaque as theirs.”

There is a plaque in the band room located in the Haas Fine Arts building of all the recipients of the award, he said.

Czech said he has been a drum major for the last three years, but has been a member of the BMB for four years. He said he has been participating in marching band in general for seven years.

“I was the drum major at River Falls High School for two years,” Czech said. “I played the tuba as a sophomore.”

He said he was in the River City drum and bugle corps in the summer of 2015 on baritone and he was the drum major of the Madison Scouts for the last four years, but this past summer was his last time.

Czech said he also teaches at River Falls High School with two directors, both of which are UW-Eau Claire alumni and one of which also marched with the Madison Scouts.

He said his favorite memory of marching band at UW-Eau Claire was playing at Youth In Music his freshman year. Czech said he was on tuba that year and he “wiped out” with his tuba. He also said he had needed to carry his sousaphone bell the entire show.

Czech said one thing that being a member of Blugold Marching Band has taught him is teamwork and how to work well with others.

From right down the road in River Falls, Wisconsin, Czech said he chose to attend UW-Eau Claire for a few reasons.

“I chose UW-Eau Claire because of the great music program,” Czech said. “I had a ton of friends and teachers that went to school here that I knew from marching band, and because of the BMB.”

Along with being awarded the Branden Atherton scholarship this year, Czech said during his first year of college, he was also given the outstanding freshman award.

Dirks can be reached at [email protected]