“Here we go Bobcats! Here we go!” cried Information Systems Management professor Bruce White, tuba in tow, at the women’s lacrosse game.
“Come on, Bruce. We’re destroying them,” sophomore Michel Coutermarsh retorted, drawing chuckles from spectators.
Such is the nature of Quinnipiac’s Pep Band.
Spirit and sarcastic banter seem to sum up the band, a group of 20 students, a spirited professor, and a musically adept director.
“We’re a family,” Pep Band president Rhiannon Adams said. “We spend so much time together that we’re all close friends.”
The Pep Band can be found at every home ice hockey and basketball game, and has grown in size and skill enough in its 10 years to earn some attention from the Quinnipiac community.
The history of the Pep Band begins at Quinnipiac’s entrance into Division I athletics on Sept. 2, 1998.
“That date is engraved in my mind,” Jack McDonald, director of athletics and recreation, said. “Everyone was celebrating and I was saying a few words, and I noticed two students who were playing drums and a trumpet. I said, ‘Ladies and gentleman, the Quinnipiac pep band.’ Everyone chuckled, and the rest is history.”
One of the first members of the band was White, chair of the Information Systems Management department. Described by his fellow musicians as simply an “older student,” White used his tuba skills to help out the young student organization.
“I can remember when the Pep Band was one clarinet player, a couple of trumpeters, and me,” White said. “We’ve come a long ways.”
In fact, the Pep Band’s presence at the women’s lacrosse game was its first spring sport appearance in two years.
“The pep band has grown larger, and we’ve gotten more skilled,” Adams, a sophomore media studies major, said. “Athletics has started to take us seriously.”
Serious enough to have the Pep Band play during at least one game of each spring sport. On top of that, McDonald has asked the band to travel for road games with the hockey and basketball teams next year.
Adams attributed the recent improvements of the Pep Band to director Edward Adams (no relation to president Rhiannon Adams). In his second year, “Ted,” as he is called by the students, has written music for the band and worked closely with them.
“He’s a professional,” Rhiannon Adams said. “He was a performance music major in college, and he absolutely knows what he’s doing.”
The director has not only fine-tuned the students, but also has saved them some money. Because of his music-writing skills, the Pep Band no longer had to pay royalties for certain songs. But he attributed all of the Pep Band’s success to its members.
“These kids get nothing for being a part of this,” he said. “It takes a lot of dedication.”
The members were equally humble.
“I enjoy playing and I like the people,” Coutermarsh, a sophomore computer science major, said. “We get into all the hockey games and sometimes we get free food. Plus, girls like our shirts.”
Referring to the horizontally striped blue and yellow shirts, Coutermarsh (one of four Pep Band trumpeters) and crew are hard to miss at sporting events.
“Pep Band is really the only place on campus as an instrumental outlet,” Rhiannon Adams, savvy in both the clarinet and saxophone, said. “The kids that love music, like I do, want to be a part of it.”
And on the athletic side, McDonald described the band as irreplaceable.
“The Pep Band is one of those collegiate traditions,” McDonald said. “They’re more than just musicians. They’re one of the most integral parts of collegiate athletics.”
But the Pep Band was not all high notes.
“Athletics is expecting more and more out of us the more we improve,” Rhiannon Adams said. “We’re a face for them. That’s definitely the worst part. They treat us like athletes, but we don’t get scholarships or excuses from classes.”
But for the Pep Band president, the pros outweighed the cons.
“It’s not at all a chore,” she said. “We actually enjoy doing it without grades attached, without anything. We love to play.”