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Marching On: Nik Van Wagner's Stag Spotlight

"It never rains on the Stag Band...unless it does."

That's the saying around the band room, according to senior trombone player Nik Van Wagner.

After four years in the marching and jazz bands, he says all of the musicians are used to adjusting when Murphy's Law, or rain, thunder and lightning, strikes.

It hit them all at once during the Fall 2020 concert.

"Despite COVID and all that stuff, we still wanted to have our annual marching and jazz concert. We had the idea that it would be fun to have it outside on the football field under the lights.

"Everybody was in their marching uniforms at call time at 5 p.m. It was a pretty nice day, but at about six o’clock, as we started assembling and warming up, it started to downpour.

We just improvised and continued setting up like nothing was happening.

By 7 o’clock, it felt like a category 3 hurricane in Kingsley.

We just kept playing, and we soaked every piece of music we had out there, we soaked ourselves, and our instruments were damp.

It was a performance that I'll never forget, and one I'll always look back on."

That performance serves as a metaphor for Nik's outlook on life: just keep going no matter what life throws at you.

The upbeat Kingsley senior, affectionately nick-named "Tik" by his fellow bandmates, has been playing instruments since 5th grade.

He started with the trumpet, switched to baritone, played french horn, and has been a trombone player since 10th grade.

“It's a good opportunity to have fun exploring new things and perform. I have just rooted myself so far into the program, and I love it." said Nik.

When he's not marching or under the lights on Friday nights, he also plays with the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra and the The Ancient & Honorable Clam Lake Dock & Dredge Marching & Chowder Society Silver Cornet Band. (What a name!)

Once a week, he's holding down the counter at A. Papano's Pizza.

"He knows way more people than I do! He has regulars that get confused when he doesn't answer the phone," said his mom, Jena Van Wagner.

This summer, Nik volunteered with the Kingsley Schools IT department. Nik has dreams of working in information technology, and plans to start at NMC next fall, and then later transfer to Ferris State. Someday, he wants to join the FSU Pep Band and continue his musical career.

Nik Van Wagner Fast Facts

Favorite colors: Orange and red📙

Favorite food: Grilled cheese 🥪

Favorite drink: Milk 🥛

Other Activities:

Ski & Snowboard Club 🎿

Secret talent: Talking for long periods of time 🤣

On his bucket list: Travel to Boston. There's so much history and things to do and explore there! 🇺🇸

What do you want to achieve this year?

Placing in District II Honor Band this December, and get all A's in school.

What do you love about Kingsley schools?

The sense of family and community within the schools. Practically everybody knows everybody, and there's always someone that'll be there for you or will be interested in the same things as you.

What does being a Kingsley Stag mean to you?

To me, being a Kingsley Stag means perseverance, hours of practice, and outstanding performance for the community.


If you'd like to nominate a Kingsley student to be featured in our Stag Spotlight, email

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