Laker Marching Band Staff


John Martin - Director of Athletic Bands

Office Address: 1211 Haas Center for Performing Arts
Phone: (616) 331-2942

D.M.A., University of Southern Mississippi
M.M., University of Tennessee, Knoxville
B.M.E, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

John Martin serves as Associate Professor/Director of Athletic Bands. His duties include teaching music education courses, conducting the Concert Band, University Band, Laker Marching Band and coordinating the athletic band program. Prior to his appointment at Grand Valley, Martin served as Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He assisted the nationally acclaimed “Pride of the Southland” Marching Band as instructor, drill designer, and arranger. Martin’s other responsibilities included conducting the University Concert Band, administering and conducting all pep band activities, and teaching undergraduate courses in brass methods and marching band techniques. He began his music education career at Vance Middle School in Memphis where he served as band director.

John Martin received his DMA degree in wind conducting from the University of Southern Mississippi where he studied conducting with Dr. Thomas V. Fraschillo and Dr. Steven R. Moser. He received his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where he studied conducting with Dr. Gary Sousa, Dr. WJ Julian, and Dr. Gary Schallert. Among Martin’s other conducting activities, he served as conductor of the Babahatchie Community Band in Harriman, Tennessee and guest conductor of the East Tennessee Concert Band in Knoxville. He has presented sessions at state and national conferences. Martin continues to actively serve as a clinician, adjudicator, and guest conductor throughout the nation. He has numerous tuba/euphonium arrangements published through TUBA Press.

He holds membership in many professional organizations including the College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. In 2001, he was awarded Phi Mu Alpha’s Orpheus Award. His dissertation focused on the career of his college band director, Dr. WJ Julian that is titled, WJ Julian: His life and career with emphasis on his tenure as Director of Bands at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1961-1993).

Whitney Brainard

Adam Borst - Assistant Director

Office Address: 1211 Haas Center for Performing Arts

B.M.E., Grand Valley State University
M.M.Ed., American Band College, Sam Houston State University

Adam Borst is excited to join the Laker Marching Band this season as the new Assistant Director.  Mr. Borst has been a band director for fifteen years, the last thirteen of which were leading the band program at Cedar Springs Public Schools.  During his time there, Mr. Borst led the marching band to nine consecutive MCBA Flight 3 State Finals appearances and has received numerous Division 1 ratings at District and State levels with his bands from grades 7-12.  In 2019, Mr. Borst was inducted into the American School Band Directors Association for his many accomplishments and demonstrating consistent excellence.

Mr. Borst received his Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from the American Band College of Sam Houston State University in Ashland, Oregon. He is a 2004 graduate of Grand Valley State University with his Bachelor of Music Education degree and was a drum major for the Laker Marching Band in 2003. 

Mr. Borst is happily married to Lisa, who is a GVSU alumnus and band director at Coopersville Area Public Schools.  In their free time, they enjoy traveling and spending time with friends and family.



Becky Sikkema

Becky Sikkema - Color Guard Coordinator

Office Address: 1300 Haas Center for Performing Arts

B.S., Grand Valley State University

Becky Sikkema serves as the Laker Marching Band Color Guard Instructor. She has been a color guard instructor in West Michigan for the past eight years.  She was the instructor at Martin High School from 2004-2011.  She has been the instructor at Wayland Union High School since 2007. In 2010 she founded the Wayland Winter Guard, which competes in the Michigan Color Guard Circuit. 

Becky is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and Wayland Union High School.  While at Grand Valley, she studied Classics and was a member of the Laker Marching Band.  She served as section leader in the color guard for four seasons.  She is very excited to be instructing at both her former high school and Alma Mater.

Alex Szotko - Drumline Instructor

Office Address: 1300 Haas Center for Performing Arts
Phone: (616) 717-1559

B.A., Psychology, Holy Cross College – Notre Dame, IN

Alex Szotko is the new instructor of the LMB Drumline for 2021. Mr. Szotko spent his collegiate marching band days as a member of the Band of the Fighting Irish at the University of Notre Dame and brings his love of all things college athletics to Grand Valley State University. A 2009 alumni of West Catholic High School, Mr. Szotko has spent his early professional life working across the country in pro sports, and hopes to use this background to create the ultimate fan experience to all those who step foot on campus. 

An avid and diverse percussionist, Mr. Szotko has performed with such bands as Ok-GO, American Authors, and Chicago through marching band, as well as many other national touring acts through the country music scene in Nashville, Tennessee. Alex also serves as the drum instructor for his high school alma mater and at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, as well as a song writer and touring drummer for up-and-coming country artist Brenden Monroe.

Joel Paauwe

Joel Paauwe - Announcer

B.S., Grand Valley State University

Mr. Joel Paauwe begins his role as the “Voice of the Laker marching Band.” In April of 2015, Joel received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcasting from Grand Valley State University. Since then, he has embarked on a career that has allowed him to explore his passion for voiceover. 

While he was a student at GVSU, Joel enjoyed his involvement with the campus radio station (WCKS The Whale) that he credits for helping him find his “voice.” Now, it is with this same voice that Joel hopes to leave an impact on Laker Nation the same way it has left an impact on him. He is overjoyed to be carrying on such a legacy and is thrilled to be a part of Laker Marching Band history.


Tom Yackish

Tom Yackish - Honorary Lifetime Member


B.S., Purdue University

Retired announcer for the Marching Band is Professor Emeritus of Engineering, Tom Yackish. Prof. Yackish graduated from Purdue University and played in the “Purdue All-American Marching Band” his entire four years at Purdue. He also participated on the “Purdue band staff” as the marching and symphonic band librarian. Professor Yackish came to Grand Valley in the fall of 1985 after teaching engineering for sixteen years in the Purdue system to start the engineering program at Grand Valley. He quickly became associated with the Music Department by recording ensembles and playing trombone in the Grand Valley State University Jazz Band. With the arrival of Prof. Barry Martin as Director of Bands, Prof. Yackish shifted from recording to the band’s announcer. With the completion of the fall 2017 season, Prof. Yackish will have been the “Voice of the Laker Marching Band” for the past twenty three years. Prof. Yackish is an active supporter of Grand Valley’s band program and looks forward every year to meeting and participating with every band member.