Eduardo Nascimento tore up the field as a soccer player in his home country of Brazil. Now, as a member of the Blugold Marching Band, he takes the field with a different goal in mind.
"I wanted to try something new when I came to Eau Claire," said Nascimento, an international student studying kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "I cried the first time I saw the BMB play at Carson Park. That is where I fell in love and knew I wanted to be a part of it."
Nascimento recently completed his first season playing cymbals with the band, an instrument he learned to play in the few short months leading up to the fall semester. While marching bands are common in American culture, they were unfamiliar to Nascimento who grew up playing the drums.
"We don't have marching bands in Brazil," he said. "I never thought I could learn to march and play at the same time, but I did with help from my bandmates and band director Dr. Randy Dickerson."
Over the last decade, the UW-Eau Claire BMB has grown from a band of 60 to its current size of 300 members under the direction of Dickerson, associate professor of music at UW-Eau Claire. It is now considered one of the most active bands in the Upper Midwest, with performances ranging from home football games and contest exhibitions to international tours. BMB membership is open to UW-Eau Claire students of any major.
"I feel important being a part of the BMB and it's a huge accomplishment for me," Nascimento said. "I have become much more involved with the college and with other people on campus since joining the band."
Being a member of the band brings a lot of responsibility and hard work, but is definitely worth the time required, Nascimento said.
"My bandmates had patience with me and received me with open arms," Nascimento said "I was worried about my language skills and if I would make friends, but everyone went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. We will always be Blugolds and carry these memories with us."
In October, the BMB performed as the guest exhibition band at the finals of Bands of America Super-Regionals in Indianapolis, Indiana. For Nascimento, this was the most significant experience of his time with the band, he said.
"The Indianapolis trip was full of emotion for everyone," Nascimento said. "It was the last big performance of the season and for the senior members, of their college careers. We made a circle before taking the field and we were all in tears. When we got on the field, I was so happy to be playing music with my friends. Time stopped and it was like magic."
With assistance from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Nascimento will be able to continue his UW-Eau Claire education and career in the BMB after receiving a scholarship for tuition and other expenses.
"So much has happened to me in a timespan of less than two years," he said. "I came to the United States, learned English and joined the BMB. I am so grateful and am hungry for more experiences at UW-Eau Claire. Thank you to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and everyone who worked so hard to help me continue my education here."