Joliet, Ill. – Last September, the University of St. Francis (USF) announced that it was conducting a search for a new band director and was opening recruitment for students interested in playing in a university band that will help USF mark its centennial in 2020. Four months later, USF named the band’s director, Michael Compton, DMA, who has since been working hard to build up the band’s numbers in preparation for the coming fall. Part of that preparation has been the naming of six student leaders, the DRIVE (Design, Regulate, Initiate, Visualize, Engage) Crew, who will help organize, grow and have a strong say in how the band, now known as the Band of Saints, operates.

“This band council sets the schedule – and the tone – from the very start. While I am the musical director, these officers are the team that gets the day-to-day details accomplished. The student musicians have someone they know to go to for getting music, instruments, auxiliary materials, and to know where and when things happen. I like to think of them as assistant coaches, equipment managers, on an athletic team. Of course, starting out I will have a much more hands-on approach to this until we get things established, but it should eventually become a self-sustaining mechanism,” Compton said.

DRIVE Crew officers for the USF Band of Saints include:

  • Sarah Deffenbaugh (clarinet and mellophone, language arts secondary education major), DRIVE Crew Chair: serving as the band’s liaison to the university, organizing band student orientation, chairing DRIVE Crew meetings, and high school recruitment;
  • Rodolfo Perez (trombone, biology/pre-med major), DRIVE Crew Vice Chair/Culture: building a positive and inclusive band culture, coordinating with social chair on band activities and recruitment campaigns;
  • Elizabeth Badalamenti (clarinet, marketing major), DRIVE Crew Vice Chair/Social: organizing social and team-building activities for the band, social media campaigns, and aid in recruitment efforts;
  • Anja Huettemann (trumpet, nursing major), DRIVE Crew Student Director: leading the band at all performances, organizing members during rehearsals and performances;
  • Emmanuel Sami (trombone, computer science major), DRIVE Crew Logistics Chair: helping to get band members to engagements and ready by overseeing schedule, transportation, and timing involved for rehearsals and performances, and;
  • Tom Hartsfield (drums, digital and recording arts major), DRIVE Crew Percussion/Equipment Chair: organizing transportation and set-up of all band equipment for rehearsals and performances.

With the Band of Saints’ student leaders in place, Compton is engaging them in his efforts to prepare for the fall. While he knows the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic will impact what his initial goals for the band’s kickoff this fall will look like, he knows their collective efforts will make it an experience to remember.

“My targets change from day to day lately, but I would say that a successful year would include a steady increase in interest and excitement about the Band of Saints at home football and basketball games over the course of their seasons, a growth in the repertoire of the ensemble, and a healthy list of recruits for the Fall 2021 Band of Saints. I’ve looked for people that can certainly play music, of course, but also can create some excitement – yell, chant, dance around and have fun,” Compton added.

Students interested in joining USF’s Band of Saints may visit for more information, or they can contact Compton directly at All Band of Saints members receive a pep band scholarship. They must be active members and enrolled in the pep band class MUSC 277A Pep Band.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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