Sitting in the Palestra at the men’s basketball game on Saturday afternoon, I saw the cheerleaders trying to rev up the crowd, while I heard the UR Pep Band behind me, trying to do the same. “The pep band definitely contributes to the environment at sports games. Both Coach Neer [men] and Coach Scheible [women] have personally thanked us for our efforts. When games are sparsely attended, the band becomes the main cheering section. However, the band still adds to the environment of games packed with students as we provide the music that gets students cheering. Either way, the Pep Band generates school spirit and supports our teams,” remarked co-president and sophomore Andrew Bochenko.
“When I arrived at UR, I was shocked at how uninspired and apathetic the large majority of the student population was,” musical director of the UR Pep Band and alumnus Greg Savich ’06 said. “Pep Band is my way of doing something to increase school spirit and do something about the apathy that pervades the student body.”
Pep Band is essentially run by Savich and co-presidents Bochenko and senior Justin Berkowitz. The group rehearses for two hours once a week during football and basketball seasons. They play a variety of music, drawing from Jock Jams or other popular music from the past three decades such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Chuck Mangione.
“The crowd usually responds to us. They get really into it, depending on the song. Two of the most popular songs are Kansas’ ‘Carry on My Wayward Son’ and Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock and Roll Part 2,'” Pep Band trombonist sophomore Gregory Smith said.
Smith was asked to join the Pep Band because they needed a trombone player. He was also a member of his high school’s pep band and was excited to continue to increase school spirit through music. Music is his main hobby, and he is glad that he can express his musical creativity through participation in UR Pep Band. As it says in their mission statement, the purpose of Pep Band is to “provide another outlet for musical and visual expression at the University of Rochester.”
Bochenko plays the trumpet for Pep Band and said that for him, “Pep Band is my escape from the busy life of an engineering major. With the combination of sports, spirit and music, I can relax and get some good use out of my trumpet and vocal chords.” The group not only builds fervor at sports events, but also is an enjoyable outlet for the musicians. The Pep Band spreads their energy and love of music at every home football and basketball game, including this weekend’s men’s basketball playoff games at St. John Fisher. They will also be appearing at future soccer games and “a performance at the Newman Community-sponsored Soccer Tournament in late March is in the works,” according to Bochenko. “The group is always looking for more opportunities to perform.” Embrace the pep!