'Baldwin Club' makes mark in University of Pittsburgh band

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

A purple and white spirit towel with the Baldwin-Whitehall logo remains a source of pride just as much as the navy blue and Vegas gold uniforms do for the eight Baldwin High School alumni who performed in the University of Pittsburgh's marching band during the 2012 season.

The students ­— Mary Tkach, Nick Rubenstein, Brett Mullen, Sam Garrow, Jared Andes, John Obeid, Scott Thompson and Alex Honeygosky — prepare to play and cheer for the Panthers' appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl vs. Ole Miss in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday.

For all of them, Pitt band served as a great way to transition into college life with the support of fellow Fighting Highlanders in what they call “The Baldwin Club.”

“We're trying to get more Baldwin kids in it to try to build our numbers,” said Honeygosky, a sophomore computer engineering major, who transferred from Pitt's Greensburg campus last semester. “You can never have enough of us.”

Honeygosky, a drummer, said joining the band helped him make friends easily.

Likewise, Obeid, a senior chemical engineering major and trumpet player, spent last year recruiting his friends at Baldwin who planned to attend the University of Pittsburgh in the fall. Obeid invited Tkach, a tuba player and freshman geology major, and Rubenstein, a freshman chemical engineering major and trumpet player, to play with him and the pep band during a Pitt basketball game last year.

Rubenstein then recruited his best friend, Mullen.

“It's just a whole other level of fun,” Obeid said. “I feel like high school began when I joined ... Ironically, the same thing happened in college. I feel like college started when I joined.”

Tkach said she agrees.

“You just feel a sense of family,” Tkach said. “It's just a sense of community ... We've been friends throughout high school.”

For Rubenstein and the rest of the Baldwin band alums, who adhered to intense competition and practice schedules, there is humor when other non-Baldwin marchers complain about routines and long hours, he said. Pitt's band is a bit more relaxed, the Baldwin grad said.

“They complain if we go over an hour at practice,” Rubenstein said. “It's so much fun — very rewarding, too.”

Obeid looks back at his Baldwin competition days with pride.

“We were very intense at Baldwin,” Obeid said. “We come from a strong background.”

For Thompson, a senior electrical engineering major and baritone player, the practicing and performances are a great way to organize time and relieve stress, he said.

“We just go out there and have fun,” Thompson said. “It really relieves a lot of stress.”

It also helps that marching band merchandise and trips to games mostly are free for the students, he said.

Andes, a freshman who plans to major in mechanical engineering, always knew that he'd join Pitt's marching band, just like his two older brothers before him. He also rooms with Garrow, a freshman history major and trombone player.

“I've been around it so long that I really want to do it, too,” Andes said.

“That was one of the easiest ways to show my support for the school ... I can't wait to go see us play another game and hopefully win.”

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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