It marches in the family
Heading into her senior year, Ashley Mercs ’19 knew it was going to be emotional, but she had no idea how special the year would become.
As CEO of Pride of Dayton, the University of Dayton’s marching band, Ashley has made lifelong friends, spent countless hours planning trips and performing on the football field. But maybe most special is her brother, John Mercs ’22, and her twin sister Holly Mercs ’20 joining her on the field as bandmates, for her final year.
Ashley and Holly had both been in their high school marching band. But after graduation, Holly decided to pursue different interests, while Ashley joined the Pride of Dayton. Their little brother, John, followed in Ashley's footsteps once he arrived at the University.
So in her senior year, Holly decided she had to pick up her trumpet again.
“I didn't want to leave UD with any regrets,” Holly said. “And I knew that band was going to be one of those if I didn’t do it. It was Ashley’s senior year, John was going to be here and it just couldn’t be more perfect timing — all three of us could do it together,” she said. “And that's what made it really special for me. It's something to end my college career with my family.”
The family’s ties to the University don’t end with Ashley, Holly and John, though.
Rhonda Mercs, the siblings’ mother, works for the University as the director of the Empowering Children with Hope and Opportunity program (ECHO), and their older sister, Heather Mercs ’16, also graduated from UD.
The connection to UD is so strong that none of the four Mercs toured any other colleges.
“Being exposed to the Marianist charism, they could see it through me, and that was enough for them to know that UD was home,” Rhonda said.
And as most Flyers know, family is a word often used when describing campus. For the Mercs siblings, though, there is a family within a family within a family.
“We call each other family members,” Ashley said of her bandmates. “ We’re all there to have fun, to make music and to perform, and that's the best part.”