Pep Band Replaced for March Madness Tournament

Karenna Warden, Assistant Sports Editor

As the Colgate Men’s Basketball team competed in the NCAA tournament, March Madness, the Raider Pep Band was not in attendance for the second time since 2019.

In March of 2019, the pep band was replaced by Ohio State University students wearing maroon Colgate t-shirts as the Raiders played the NCAA March Madness game in Columbus, Ohio. According to a 2019 Maroon-News article, members of the pep band claimed they were never invited to attend.

“My recollection is that we did not have as strong of a line of communication between the athletics department and the pep band. I had not been at a school with a student-run pep band before, and didn’t understand the associated unique challenges,” Vice President and Director of Athletics Nicki Moore said. 

Moore added that the 2019 game was the first time Colgate had been to an NCAA basketball tournament in 23 years, so the athletics department was operating in largely uncharted waters. 

According to the Maroon-News article, the band responded with some frustration as they had not been informed that another group would be serving as the pep band in Columbus. A post on the @colgateraiders page of an Ohio State student playing the trumpet and the caption “One more time for the greatest fans in the world!!” was met with comments from the band airing their frustrations. These comments, and later the post of the trumpeter, were later taken down.

“I knew that I wanted to join pep band even before I enrolled in Colgate,” Woods said. Woods joined Colgate’s pep band upon entering the university, eager to play clarinet in the tight-knit community akin to the small musical group he was a part of in high school. 

pep band co-director junior Aidan Woods, who knew he wanted to join the even group before coming to Colgate, was quickly welcomed into the fray at Colgate through the kindness of upperclassmen and peers through the pep band. Had he not heard it from seasoned members of the pep band, Woods would not have suspected that only one semester earlier, in March of 2019, the group had faced strife with Colgate’s athletics department.

2022 brings forth a new era in the relationship between the Raider Pep Band and Colgate’s athletics department. However, when Colgate entered March Madness once again against the University of Wisconsin, the Raider Pep Band did not perform. Scheduling conflicts prohibited many members from attending the Milwaukee competition, which occurred over Colgate’s spring break. 

First-year Lilly Sweeney acknowledged that spring break scheduling conflicts could have been avoided had the band been notified earlier that they would be playing, but emphasized that blame could not be placed on anyone for this shortcoming.

“Athletics did not know our basketball team was going to March Madness any earlier, so I don’t blame them for when they notified us,” Sweeney said. “Ultimately planning just didn’t work out and, while it’s disappointing, hopefully, we have another opportunity in the coming years to travel more.”

Sophomore Madison Markham, a drum major, also expressed her understanding of the decision to replace the pep band for this year’s NCAA tournament.

“It’s not due to malice on either party’s part. This is due to a lack of preparedness,” Markham said. 

This year, a regional high school represented the band.

“They did a fantastic job,” Moore said. “Though we would really love to have our own pep band accompany us to the tournament, we also understand that Colgate students have many commitments and interests.”

Moore’s statement falls in line with an increased effort on both the part of the band and the department for improved communication.

 “We’re starting to get into more of a groove of things. We’re starting to work together a little bit easier. I would definitely say that the relationship is improving,” Markham said.

While the relationships between the band and the administration have fluctuated, the tight-knit nature of the team has remained constant. 

“The people that I meet in pep band, especially the upperclassmen coming in, are very core figures in my life. I’m going to be thinking about this group of people for a while, whether or not I continue to play music,” Markham said.

Markham now strives to fill, for first-years in pep band, the role upperclassmen took on when she was a first-year. She hopes to be a friend and a resource to them, both within the club and with adjusting to Colgate life broadly, guiding them in anything from navigating course selection to the social scene. 

The band excels in coming together through small, lighthearted moments and exchanges amidst serious and intense work and practice. Most recently, the band has been using a white board from their equipment bag, generally used to write orders for song titles, to exchange jokes during hockey and other sports games. 

Our band is spirited, creative and positive. They are smaller than many Division I pep bands, but they have a strong sound, and most are also involved in orchestra and other musical endeavors on campus, making their commitment to pep band all the more impressive,” Moore said.