Maverick time signatures

At first blush, there might not seem much beyond blood that would connect recent University graduate Cullen Mitchell, ’20, and his late grandmother Arlys Bonderman, ’71. 

Bonderman, her grandson said, was a small-town teacher, reserved in manner and devoutly  religious.  

Current Maverick Machine Drum Major Cade Readmond learned his grandfather shared the same role decades back.

His life is considerably louder. Recently graduated after four years with the notoriously rambunctious Maverick Machine, he’s hoping to find a career in music where he’s discovering bands working for or with venues such as First Avenue, the premiere rock club in the Twin Cities. 

Yet it’s the Machine in which they both share a bond: Bonderman was a coronet player for the Mankato Teacher’s College band in 1947. 

Same goes for Cade Readmond. And Nathaniel Fox. The three are current or recent members of the wildly colorful Machine with family members from black-and-white days who took the same path during their time at the University.  

And family is precisely what director Michael Thursby wants the Machine experience to have.  

“One of our most important values is family, which describes the culture that we have,” Thursby said, “where students form connections and bonds that are almost family like. To find the legacy members just adds another layer to that.” 

“We only realized she was part of this band back just a few months ago,” Mitchell said of his grandmother. “My mom had the photo of her holding the trumpet, but we thought it was a picture from her high school time. But she found the yearbook that matched that same outfit she was wearing. That’s when we realized it was from college.” 

Cade Readmond’s grandfather in upper right in his Drum Major uniform. 

Senior Cade Readmond, drum major for the Machine, learned that his maternal grandfather, Gerald Middlested, was a drum major for the band as well. Readmond hadn’t known about this until he was appointed drum major at the band’s end-of-the-year banquet one year ago. That same day, his mom mentioned to him that her father, Middlested, had the same role at the University many years earlier. 

“I just kind of have that inner connection with me,” said Readmond, who was able to continue as drum major through the next academic year. “To just think about a person in my family being in this role too, back in the day…even though I didn’t get to know him I think he’d be pretty proud.” 

Third-year student Nathaniel Fox knew that both of his parents—Shane and Jody—had been in the Maverick marching band during their time at the University in the late 80s and early 90s. Raised in Chatfield, Nathaniel chose Minnesota State Mankato in 2018 for its law enforcement program more than music. 

“I didn’t think about marching band until orientation when I saw the marching band table at the CSU,” he said. “Right when I saw that table it was, yep, I’ll do it.” 

He’s been doing it since, he said, “and having nothing but fun.” 

When the band prepared to march in the University’s big 2018 homecoming parade celebrating its 150th year, Thursby invited all band alumni to participate. Among those attending was Fox’s dad, Shane, who played alongside Nathaniel in both the parade and the stands during the homecoming game. 

Cullen remembers being thrilled when the alumni came to town and the recent graduate is eager to continue that tradition. 

“That made it feel so much like a family. That the alumni still want to come back and play with us,” he said. “Of course, next school year, if we’re allowed to have in-person events, I’m definitely going to be planning on trying to make a few of those.”