2020 Russ Swanson Outstanding Band Members Announced

On Saturday, February 20, 2021, the Cornhusker Marching Band held their Band Awards Ceremony online instead of their usual banquet. During that time, the UNL Band Alumni Association was pleased to award the 2020 Russ Swanson Outstanding Band Member Awards to Jacob Coughlin and Sydney McGahan.

Sydney McGahan

Sydney McGahan
Sydney McGahan

Sydney McGahan, from North Platte, Nebraska, has been a member of the Cornhusker Marching Band for five years as a member of the trombone section and as drum major this past year. She graduated December 2020 with a major in Music Education and a minor in Leadership and Communications. Sydney’s older brother, Nathan, played sousaphone in the band. She is currently applying for teaching jobs, with the hopes of teaching K-5 General Music.

Why did you choose to attend UNL?
Both of my parents attended UNL, and I was pretty excited to do the same! I’ve wanted to be a member of the CMB since I was little. You can’t really do that while attending a different college!

What is the first impression you had of the UNL Band/Game?
My very first husker game, I was 8 or 9 I think, I was sitting in North Stadium with my mom. During pregame, there was a flyover (I couldn’t see it coming because we were in North Stadium) and it was so loud that I managed to drop my root beer, let go of my balloon, and cry at the same time. Once I was calmed down, my mom offered to get me another drink around halftime. I, rather forcefully, told her that I was there to watch the band and that we could get a new drink “while the football was happening.” 🙂

What is a memorable moment with the CMB you’d like to share?
I feel like I’m expected to say something along the lines of my first pregame, but I definitely blacked out for that and don’t remember it. I made it out okay on the other side, but the details are fuzzy 🙂 So instead: During the away trip to Wisconsin, a few band members and I went under the stands to buy some of the infamous cheese curds. There was a Wisconsin fan in front of us that INSISTED we needed to be treated to the best part of Wisconsin football and bought an order of curds for each of us. There’s also the Michigan State game that the only points were from field goals. After the game, it had started snowing, and a few of the trombones started making snow angels on the field. I have so many memories that are worthy of being shared, but that would take entirely too long. My favorite part of being a member of the CMB is all of the people I’ve met. I gained numerous lifelong friends, and I owe that to this ensemble. 

How may the scholarship help you?
Since I’ve already graduated, the money will be going toward supplies for my future classroom!

“I’m incredibly honored to be chosen for this award! I’ve done nothing short of pouring my heart into the CMB, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!”

Sydney McGahan

Jacob Coughlin

Jacob Coughlin
Jacob Coughlin

Jacob Coughlin, from Millard North HS in Omaha, Nebraska, has been a member of the Cornhusker Marching Band playing Baritone/Euphonium and also served as Drum Major. He is a 5th year Senior with a Business Management major with a minor in music (Euphonium emphasis). After graduation, Jacob plans to pursue the field of public service in the role of firefighter and/or paramedic.

If the name sounds familiar, Jacob’s older sister, Meghan, was in the CMB from 2013 to 2017. She marched clarinet, then a Drum Major for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Meghan and Jacob were Drum Majors together during the 2017 season (Jacob’s Sophomore year and her second Senior Year).

Why did you choose to attend UNL?
My decision to come to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was quite simple. At the time, I was interested in pursuing a music education degree and UNL was both finically responsible while still boasting an incredible music education program. While at UNL, my dreams and ambitions have changed, but the music and band programs here continue to be one of the primary reasons I love this University.

What is the first impression you had of the UNL Band/Game?
My first impression of the UNL band was while I was in high school and I attended one of the exhibition nights to watch my sister. I was blown away by the level of professionalism they were able to show while having so much fun. It was such a fun and engaging experience that ignited my interest in being in the ensemble.

What is a memorable moment with the CMB you’d like to share?
My most memorable times with UNL Bands would be when the Cornhusker Marching Band travels. During my time in the band, I have had the opportunity to go to Northwestern University (2016 season), the Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN (2016 season), University of Wisconsin-Madison (2018 season), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2019 season). CMB trips always bring fun stories, whether it’s going out at midnight to get pizza in the middle Springfield, Illinois or marching an entire halftime show at a Madison, WI high school in torrential downpour, CMB always makes the most out of every situation.

How may the scholarship help you?
I plan to use this scholarship towards a Life-membership in Kappa Kappa Psi once I graduate. While here at Nebraska, I have had the opportunity to serve the UNL band program alongside my brothers, and I hope to be able to continue that service as a life member of Kappa Kappa Psi for many years to come.

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