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Behind the beat of the Marching Miners’ success

Joel Molina
The UTEP Marching Miners are lead on the field by this year’s Drum Majors Ramsey Perez (left), Cassandra Gil (center) and Alexa Andrade Fuentes (right).

Although people come to the Sun Bowl on game days to watch the UTEP football team, it can be difficult to imagine the football experience without the spectacle put on by the Marching Miners.  

The UTEP Marching Miners have become a staple, performing across various athletic events and local exhibitions in and around El Paso. The ensemble has garnered the attention of over 200 members.  

Behind the flashy composition and extravagant choreography are the UTEP Drum Majors. This year, the Marching Miners are led on the field by drum majors Alexa Andrade Fuentes, Cassandra Gil and Ramsey Perez.  

All El Paso natives who decided to grace UTEP with local talent also graduated from local high schools. Fuentes is a graduate of Eastwood High School. Gil attended El Dorado High School and Perez is a Parkland High School alum.  

From various backgrounds, the three drum majors have one thing in common; none of them are music majors.  

This is something the trio says they are quite proud of. They pointed out that anyone can truly succeed in anything they want to do and not just with the Marching Miners, but in various facets of life.  

“I think most of the band (members are) non-music majors,” Gil said.  “It is part of what people want to do. They really want to have this be like a ticket out of academics. It is a fun time that you know you can look forward to after if you’ve had a bad day.”  

Fostering a welcoming environment is a key goal of this leadership squad as all three drum majors have had less than ideal circumstances choosing between music and other extracurricular activities throughout high school.  

“I do think there is a stigma in high school of, ‘You can’t do both sports and band,’” Fuentes said. “They always make you choose and that’s what I see a lot of high schoolers experiencing now.”  

The Marching Miners recently experienced a change in professional leadership following the promotion of Andrew Hunter to UTEP Director of Bands. After a national search, Brandon Houghtalen was named Director of Athletic Bands.  

The trio says they have naturally grown attached to Houghtalen over the course of their band career.  

“I kind of like to describe it as we are like his kids and I’m the middle child who likes to get under his skin, sometimes for fun,” Fuentes said. “I do think (our relationship) is different. I think we are closer to him than you know, if you were not a leader simply because we do have to work with him one-on-one.”  

With the drum majors in various stages of their academic careers, they say it may lead to situations where they have to deal with more than one issue at a time. They say this has not been a problem for them so far.   

Fuentes is a senior pre-med major. Perez is a sophomore digital media production major and Gil, who is enrolled at El Paso Community College, is an architecture senior.  

“Sure, it is having great upper classmen (to look up to), but really, it’s just two great friends that I get to be co-drum major with,” Perez said. “Our personalities are a little bit different, but honestly, they work really well, and we have. Yeah, we have each other’s back all the time. It is a great dynamic.”  

The Marching Miners perform at football, volleyball and basketball games throughout the year and participate in various high school marching band competitions. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributors
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Photo Editor
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the photo editor who began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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