Profiles In K-State Fandom – Damon Newell

Profiles In K-State Fandom – Damon Newell

The ninth installment of “Profiles in K-State fandom” features Damon Newell. Damon was nominated and when you read his profile it’s easy to see why someone suggested that he be featured. Damon is an alum of the K-State band and went on to become a band director himself. I am sure you’ll enjoy getting to know a little bit about Damon and his fandom….

JM: Tell me a little bit about your background. Where were you born/where did you grow up and how did you become such a huge K-State fan?

DN: I grew up in Concordia, graduated high school there in 1995. Oddly enough, my family did not really get into K-State sports until the mid/late 80’s. Both of my parents went to Fort Hays State. However, if we ever went to collegiate athletics it was K-State. 90 minutes away made becoming a K-State fan very convenient. My father and I began going to as many football games as we could. My brother began attending K-State in 1991, so we were in Manhattan multiple times a month from that point on. This would have to be the true origin of my Purple Passion. Participating in the Kansas State University Marching Band was a HUGE component of my experience for K-State. I cannot overemphasize that point enough. Being in ‘The Pride’ literally pumps purple into the veins of it’s participants. The Pride changed my life forever.

JM: Did you attend K-State? Did you graduate? What years did you attend?

DN: I began attending K-State in the Fall of 1995. I majored in Music Education and Saxophone Performance. I took the ‘long route’ in my time at K-State and graduated in the Spring of 2002. Yes, I know most people that go to school that long are called doctors. I just didn’t want to leave. Also, I spent a lot of time in Aggieville. I truly loved my time at K-State.

JM: If you attended K-State, tell me a little bit about how you came to that decision.

DN: My mind was finally made up to attend K-State after meeting the Director of Bands, Dr. Frank Tracz. He started at K-State in 1993 and has done for KSU Bands what Bill Snyder did for KSU Football. Dr. Tracz’s energy and work ethic were entirely addictive to be around. After meeting Dr. Tracz and seeing him in action Kansas State was my sole collegiate destination.

JM: Are you married? Is she a K-State fan?

DN: I am married to my wife Andrea. Andrea is originally from Ohio. We met at a band camp in Hays back in 1998. So, yes, ‘This One Time At Band Camp’. She was even a red-headed flute player. However, I can confirm that it was not as the movie went. We tried to make it work, but the distance was just too much for two poor college students. In 2010 we reconnected after 11 years through Facebook. We were married the following year. We do not have kids. However, we do have six cats that monopolize a majority of our free time. Andrea does not like football, but I forgive her for that.

JM: What do you do for a living?

DN: I am the Director of Bands at Delphos St. John’s in Delphos, Ohio. I have been teaching band for 22 years, nine of which have been at Delphos St. John’s. Oddly enough, my wife is also a band director in Ohio. It is nice because we both have similar ‘band director’ schedules throughout the year. Also, we help each other out with our groups as much as possible.

JM: What’s your favorite restaurant or hangout when you’re in Manhattan?

DN: Unfortunately, I live 735 miles from Manhattan. I get back to Manhattan a few times a year and make the most of every trip. My favorite establishments I frequent when back in Manhattan are Rock-A-Belly, So Long Saloon, Auntie Mae’s, and Kites. Favorite place to stay is The Bluemont Hotel. Favorite hangouts are Aggieville, K-State Campus (McCain, Memorial Stadium, The Union), Manhattan Hill, and Rally House.

JM: Do you have a favorite sport? Favorite K-State team?

DN: Football is definitely the sport I am most passionate about. In college the success of the football team directly affected the destination of the K-State Marching Band over bowl season. Everyone in the KSUMB was always 100% invested in the success of the football team all season. Personally, my favorite K-State football team of all time would be the 1998 squad. Bill Snyder had formed a perfect storm of talent and tradition that led to an undefeated regular season. I have seen so many amazing K-State football teams since, but that 1998 team was legendary.

JM: Do you have season tickets? If so, which sports?

DN: Due to the fact that I live so far away I no longer have season tickets to any sports at K-State. I make every possible effort to make it back to at least one home football game a year. With the expansion of the Big 12 I will now be able to attend more K-State football games in my area of the country.

JM: Do you travel to K-State away games?

DN: I will be attending the K-State vs. West Virginia game in Morgantown October 19th. It is a 6 hour drive across Ohio for that game. I plan to attend all games in Morgantown. I will also be attending all K-State games in Cincinnati in the future, a 2.5 hour drive for me.

JM: Do you have a favorite away game place or story to tell?

My favorite AWAY game experience would have to be the 1994 Sunflower Showdown in Lawrence. I was a senior in HS at the time. My dad and I drove up to watch the Wildcats beat ku (I never capitalize ‘ku’). After the final whistle I took a lot of joy in watching our fans tear their goalposts down in their own stadium. That was a memory I’ll never forget.

JM: Any negative experiences?

DN: ‘The Game We Do Not Speak Of’….Big 12 Championship 1998. I never cried after a loss until that day. I don’t think I could ever take another loss like that again.

JM: What is your favorite K-State sports memory?

DN: November 14th, 1998. My favorite memory in all of K-State sports was being present for the 40-30 victory over Nebraska in football. The students stormed the field. I was in the KSU Marching Band. We played till our lips fell off that night. I remember thinking the moment of the final whistle that everything was going to change for the better for K-State. I’ll never forget that night for as long as I live.

JM: Who is your favorite K-State player(s), past or present?

DN: My favorite player of all time has to be Michael Bishop. Bishop came in and took the college football world by storm. His style of play and competitive fire changed the QB position forever. Other favorite players would have to be Kevin Lockett, Darren Sproles, Nyle Wiren, Mark Simoneau, Tyler Lockett, Jeff Kelly, Cooper Beebe, Jordy Nelson, and Deuce Vaughn. I know these are all football, but that is the sport I am most passionate about. Most of these players were passed by larger, more prominent programs. They all chose K-State and became legends.

JM: Who is your favorite K-State coach(es), past or present?

DN: To me, it all starts with Bill Snyder. He literally resurrected a football program on the brink of extinction. I believe Chris Klieman was the perfect hire to be Snyder’s successor. Coach Klieman runs a clean program the right way. Also, he is a winner.

JM: If you had to guess, what percentage of your wardrobe is purple?

DN: Easily 80% of my wardrobe is purple. My wife says I have a problem. I say “You married me for better or worse”.

JM: What does the “K-State Family” mean to you?

DN: Being a member of the K-State Family means everything to me. I cannot fathom any other direction my life could have taken other than being a K-Stater to the core. My life is better because of the K-State Family. It is a determined fraternity of purple I will always be a part of. K-State helped me to discover myself. K-State gave me a career I love. K-State gave me memories I’ll always cherish. And K-State gave me friends that I will have for a lifetime.

JM: Anything else you’d like to add?

I have to mention four people that were brought into my life because of K-State. These four people have changed my life in so many positive ways. Dr. Frank Tracz gave me guidance when I was lost. He will always be my director of life. I cannot imagine my life without my three best friends from the K-State Marching Band…Melissa, Becky, & Shelly. If it was not for Kansas State, my life would be far less without those people. They are truly my K-STATE FAMILY.

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If you would like to nominate someone to be featured in “Profiles in K-State fandom,” please message me and I’ll reach out to them. Thanks!

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