Norfolk State University’s Spartan Legion band was voted 2019 HBCU Sports Band of the Year— securing bragging rights for the band, the school and thousands of alumni.
The Legion scored the top vote in a weeklong online poll of the best bands at historically black colleges and universities, earning 14,430 of the total 37,032 votes tallied to clinch the top spot, according to HBCU Sports. The poll was open from Jan. 14 through Jan. 21.
Votes for NSU represented almost 39 percent of the total vote. North Carolina A&T came in second place in the voting with 6,529 votes, followed by Southern University at third with 6,363 votes. Rounding out the top seven were Grambling State with 4,767 votes, Jackson State with 2,210 votes, Florida A&M with 1,821 votes and Bethune-Cookman, which landed 912 votes.
The 225-member Spartan Legion, which is led by band director, William Beathea, consistently ranks among the top four marching bands in the country among HBCUs in preseason and midseason band polls conducted by HBCU Sports.
The Legion has always been known for putting on an energetic and entertaining show and “can hold its own in any part of the country,” Don Roberts, an executive consultant for an ESPN committee that ranks HBCU bands, told The Virginian-Pilot.
Last year, NSU hit the No. 1 spot in the ESPN committee’s Division 1 rankings before it finished at No. 6 in the nation, Roberts said.
The Spartan Legion was also hyped to be included in the music video “Heavy” for the internationally known, electronic dance music group Justice in 2019. That duo went on to win a Grammy in the category of Best Dance/Electronic album.
Such accomplishments might be news to some, that’s because they have not attended an HBCU or don’t follow HBCU bands. However, those who do said Roberts, “are not surprised. Norfolk has an extremely well-rounded program and they play really well.”
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