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"As this university and its athletic programs continue to grow and expand, so will the presence and impact of the marching band."

Ryan Kelly, the assistant director of bands, has directed the UCF Marching Knights since March 2014, but is waving goodbye to the 300-plus band members he has grown to know.

Kelly has been offered a job at the college he graduated from, the University of Texas at Austin, where he will work with its marching and concert bands.

"It is a difficult decision to leave a place like UCF that I have enjoyed so much, but the opportunity to work with my former teachers and mentors, and return to a place that I love, is a special opportunity that would be very hard to pass up," Kelly said.

At this time, it is not known who will be replacing Kelly, but there will be a temporary director in his place until a permanent band director is chosen.

For the upcoming director, Kelly advises to keep the goals of the organization focused on creating the best possible experience for the students participating in the band. In doing that, he said the band will be able to perform its best for everyone to enjoy.

"The Marching Knights have a very rich 35-year history, but also a very bright future," he said. "The best days of this band program are still in front of it, and I am confident that the next leader will help the Marching Knights continue to grow and thrive."

Compared to other professors and instructors, he said band directors are lucky in that they typically get to know their students better because of the amount of time spent together in rehearsals, performances and travel.

Assistant drum major Nikki Nowotny, a junior psychology major, said she has enjoyed having Kelly around because he was an excellent band director with a great personality.

Nowotny said Kelly's passion to direct would motivate the band members to do their best.

"I'll miss what could have been. I think he could have really taken this program to a great place, but I wish him the best," she said.

Although it may be difficult for the band members to get a new director, head drum major Judson Cressy said he thinks the Marching Knights will be just fine if the members stay positive.

"We are very excited for him to go to his new job and open the new chapter of his life. We'll be living vicariously through him," said Cressy, a sophomore hospitality management major.

One thing that stood out to Cressy was Kelly's sense of progression, always wanting things to continue moving forward.

The drum majors work in conjunction with the band director, and Cressy said the band relied on Kelly often. But as the head drum major this year, he said he will continue Kelly's sense of progression and keep the band members going.

"The Marching Knights are some of the best and brightest on this campus, and there's no question that I will miss working with them," Kelly said.

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Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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