Please accept our apologies for the pun (ahem), but Colin Clancy (B.A. ’07, Creative Writing) isn’t the kind of guy who would toot his own horn. Yet this talented writer and artist did score a trumpet solo as a five-year member of the Bronco Marching Band during his senior year at Western Michigan University.
“I definitely wasn’t the best trumpet player in the section (though maybe I was the loudest), but they gave me the solo anyway,” he said. “That particular halftime at Waldo Stadium, getting to start the show by myself, and then hearing the 300+ person band join me was a pretty special experience.”
Colin grew up near Kalamazoo and always had Western on his radar, but “band day” during the fall of his senior year in high school cemented his decision to go to WMU.
“I knew I wanted to play trumpet in a college marching band, and getting to perform with the Bronco Band as a high school senior, I realized that Western’s band was hands down the best, most powerful band in the state,” he said. “There’s something awesome about being in the middle of an ensemble that powerful—you feel it deep down in your bones, and from that first time on the field at Waldo Stadium I became addicted to it for the next five years.”
Along with being in the marching band, living in Harvey Hall (his first-year dorm) also allowed Colin to form friendships that have lasted to this day. “I loved being on campus,” he said. My group of friends played all the IM sports we could find. It’s really cool to be able to follow their lives and see them raise families and whatnot.”
Still a Michigander at heart, this outdoor and nature enthusiast now lives in the mountains of Utah with his wife Amy, toddler son Jackson, and dogs Daisy and Matilda. When Colin isn’t working as a writer and photographer for the outdoor industry, he spends his free time skiing, fly fishing and hunting, as well as drawing and painting in India ink. He also happens to be the author of the novel Ski Bum (Van Velzer Press), which made its debut in December 2022.
“I was always interested in writing and photography, so I started out studying journalism,” he said. “I learned that writing for a daily newspaper wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I switched to English with a creative writing emphasis instead. Now I write and shoot photos for magazines like The Ski Journal and The Flyfish Journal, so it’s worked out pretty great.”
During Colin’s years at WMU, writer and faculty member Adam Schuitema (B.S. ′96, Elementary Education; M.F.A. ′03, Creative Writing; Ph.D. ′07, English) left an indelible mark.
“He was a grad student when I had him as a TA in a few creative writing and literature classes,” he said. “He’s an excellent fiction writer and has since published a few must-read books set in Michigan. He was a caring and passionate teacher, and I credit his mentorship a great deal for helping me develop my writing style and my confidence as a writer.”
Another alum had a big impact on Colin, too. “My mom worked at Sindecuse, and now works in dining services,” he said, “so that family tuition discount was pretty instrumental in allowing me to work my way through school without taking on a debilitating amount of debt.”
Before putting down roots in Utah, Colin moved to the U.P. for grad school at Northern Michigan University where he stayed and taught writing classes for several years. He also started a small screen-printing company called Big Water Apparel.
With all this Bronco has accomplished since graduating from WMU, his family is his biggest point of pride. “My two-year-old son, Jackson, is learning new things and developing a fun and funny personality every single day, and it is so much fun to watch,” he said. “My wife and I are excited to welcome a second baby boy less than two months from now.”
When it comes to words of wisdom, Colin advises current students to not put too much pressure on themselves to immediately decide on a major or establish a life blueprint. “The most interesting people I know didn’t know that kind of stuff at age 19, or even age 29, or 39,” he said. “Try new things, take classes that sound interesting, experiment, travel, chase down the things you’re passionate about even if—especially if—they take you off the straight-and-narrow path onto which the world tries to force you.”
“Go Broncos!” he added. “The campus of Western Michigan University is a pretty great place to be. Be sure to slow down every once in a while and appreciate the place and this moment in your life, because it goes by fast.”
Do you have an alumni success story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Submit your stories to WMUalumni.org/YourStory.