Meet the Members: The Sprecher & Troxler Families
“To be in that stadium and watch your child marching in the place where you marched a few years ago…it’s just really special”.
— Gail Sprecher, ‘85
UNCBAA is spotlighting our members! We ask their favorite band memories, their role in the band and what they are doing today. Today, we hear from the Sprecher and Troxler families.
What if you were asked to describe your time in UNC Bands in one word? Would you choose “meaningful”? “Fun”? Perhaps “wild”? Or did you arrive at what many of us would choose: “family”. For Gail Sprecher (’83), Doug Sprecher (’85), Pam Troxler (’86), Anna Troxler (’14), Davis Troxler (’14), Caroline Sprecher (’16), and Molly Sprecher (’20), UNC Bands is literally family.
Gail was the first to begin her musical journey and did so like many of us: in junior high school “because my mom told me it was a good way to meet people.” For Gail, continuing band into college was something worth taking a chance on: “If I like it, I’ll stay in…so I liked it, met a lot of people, it was fun.” It didn’t hurt that Gail had a front-row seat in New Orleans to watch Carolina win its second National Championship.
Around the same time, Doug became the third sibling to play the family’s “very old and beat up saxophone”. Doug enjoyed band in high school so much that he never questioned continuing into college. With a less beat up saxophone in hand, Doug joined the Marching Tar Heels. Confidence, though, was soon met with apprehension: “Carolina Band was a whole different thing [from high school]. It took me a year to figure out whether I really wanted to stay in it or not because it was just so different from high school.” But the band became home for Doug: “By the time I got to the end of the first year, I went from not being sure that I wanted to stay to not being able to figure out why I would ever leave. It felt like home.”
And as these stories go, Gail and Doug met each other through the Marching Tar Heels. At their wedding, the wedding party was mostly band friends, and “we wouldn’t have had it any other way” Gail noted. That was 36 years ago.
Fast forward to 2010. Anna Sprecher carried her mom’s clarinet into Hill Hall to start her time as a Marching Tar Heel. Anna’s beginnings in band were much like those of her mom’s: Gail and Doug encouraged Anna to join band in middle school, and by college, it was less of an expectation and more of a passion. And again, much like Gail and Doug, Anna realized that her decision to join the band was an experience that would shape her life.
On that same day in 2010, Davis Troxler entered Hill Hall to begin his stint at Carolina. The son of a former UNC color guard member, Davis was excited for the myriad Carolina games he would attend during his four years in band. He was, of course, rewarded in 2012 when Giovanni Bernard ran back a punt in the waning seconds of the game to defeat NC State. “We went crazy…we were crying” in Kenan Stadium—a memory he, along with the other 50,000 fans in the stadium—will never forget.
And again, as these stories go, Anna and Davis met each other through the band. Yes, the Gio punt return was special, and yes, Anna did enjoy the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, but what was most special was meeting each other. Davis noted that during senior year, the couple would “meet for every home game and walk to the stadium together” and that his band memories are rooted in their relationship: “I can’t help but think about band in terms of Anna more than anything else.”
It doesn’t stop there for the Sprechers, though. Caroline, Anna’s younger sister, was also a Marching Tar Heel. Like Anna played Gail’s clarinet, Caroline played Doug’s saxophone. The youngest Sprecher, Molly, experienced music at Carolina through Sigma Alpha Iota, the women’s music fraternity.
Gail and Doug never expected nor assumed that their daughters would all be involved in music at UNC. They wanted Anna, Caroline, and Molly to experience college in their own, unique ways, but as each got involved in music, they certainly weren’t complaining: “we were really, really thrilled that they wanted to give it a chance and they wanted to be a part of it” Doug noted. “The first time you see your kids in a Carolina band uniform on the field…that’s just such a neat thing.” Gail agreed: “To be in that stadium and watch your child marching in the place where you marched a few years ago…it’s just really special”. Of course, she also noted that “one thing we were very grateful [for] was that they got new uniforms”. Doug laughed and agreed, describing the old uniforms as having magical materials that were blazing hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.
Fast forward another decade, and Gail, Doug, Anna, and Davis are talking about the newest addition to the family: a 6 month old boy who (of course) has already attended his first Carolina sporting event. Anna and Davis’s son is already part of the UNC Bands family; his quilt was knit by a band friend of Doug and Gail’s, and a band friend of Anna and Davis’s has a child the same age—they’ll be best friends, but they don’t know it yet. Both kids have already been signed up for the Marching Tar Heels upon their acceptance into Carolina.
But what’s an article about band without a couple of “those” band stories. With their combined multiple decades of experience in the Marching Tar Heels, there were more than a few stories to look back upon. One such story took place when Doug was equipment manager, a job not apt for his two-seat Toyota. The car was often loaded with instruments in the seats, the trunk, and even on the roof. One fateful day, a snare drum decided to find a home somewhere other than the car. Doug recalls the moment: “One of the snare drums came loose from my car and rolled down Country Club Drive a prodigious distance. And it finally went off the road into a ditch somewhere—so I had to get everything else [back on the roof] and then I had to go look for the snare drum that rolled down Country Club.” Imagine a band kid running down the road chasing a drum. It could have been any of us. Unfortunately for Doug, it was him this time.
Doug wasn’t sure if that moment was more or less enjoyable than the away football game in which the band’s uniforms became targets for ketchup and mustard-laden hot dogs. Anna pitched in a story involving the band trip to Shreveport, LA for the Independence Bowl. The Tar Heels played Mizzou the day after Christmas in 2011. The game took place in a cold, miserable rain. The Tar Heels led 7-0 in the first quarter and were promptly outscored 41-17. Oddly enough, the trip was one of Anna’s favorite memories from band. Not because she enjoyed being cold and wet and miserable, but “because of the friends that were there with me.”
The Sprecher family have been long-standing supporters, cheerleaders, and friends of UNC Bands. When asked why being connected to UNC Bands remains such an important part of their lives, Doug put it simply: “It’s a big thank you card for all of the things that band has meant to us, for all of the friends we’ve made along the way, and for all of the really really fun and happy memories that are associated with it. I don’t think we could say thank you enough for all of that.”
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