The University of Connecticut marching band paid tribute to Parkland shooting victim Alex Schachter during halftime at Rentschler Field Thursday night.
Schachter, who was a freshman in high school when he was killed in the Feb. 14 shooting, had dreamed of attending UConn and playing trombone in its marching band ever since he was a child. The band honored his memory by playing his favorite song, “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, according to the Hartford Courant. It also moved in a formation to spell out “Alex” and set a lone trombone at the 28-yard line in his honor.
Max Schachter, Alex’s father, spoke to the band before their performance, thanking them for paying tribute to his son and thanking the university for sending Alex’s family a posthumous letter of admission into the School of Fine Arts as a music major.
“I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’re doing and everything you’re going to do,” Schachter said. “Just know Alex is with you; he’s not with you in body, but he is here in spirit.”
Schachter wore his son’s gray UConn sweatshirt to Thursday’s game, noting that Alex would frequently wear it to school.
“I’m wearing Alex’s sweatshirt that he wore everyday to school,” Schachter said. “I told him, I said, ‘Alex, you’ve gotta wear a different sweatshirt. If you don’t, everybody’s going to think your parents don’t buy you any clothes.’ He said, ‘I don’t care Dad, I want to go to UConn and I want to be in the marching band.’”
Football game attendee Jodi Backes, mother of marching band member Conner Backes, told the Hartford Courant she thought the tribute to Alex was a testament to the kind of school that UConn is.
“Honoring him and knowing that he wanted to come to UConn and be a music major, and it was his dream to march with the UConn marching band, it’s a tribute to the kind of school UConn is,” Backes said. “To dedicate this whole entire performance, especially one song in particular because it was his favorite song, and to be performing that really means a lot to the kids marching.”
Alena Bianchi, fifth-semester civil engineering major and marching band photographer, said the band’s tribute to Alex was “very emotional.”
“We as a band felt it was important that we pay our respects to Alex’s memory, his love of music and to his family. He wanted to come to UConn and march in our trombone section, so we felt it would be fitting to honor him at our first game,” Bianchi said. “His family came to see the show and his father talked to us beforehand. It was emotional for everyone present, and throughout the performance it really felt like Alex was there with us.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.