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Pep and Marching Band are Part of the Sports Culture, Create Supportive Atmosphere

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One of my favorite parts of football and basketball games is getting to hear what new musical performances the marching and pep bands have practiced. It adds something extra to the games, and I love seeing all the ways people can get involved with our sports teams without having to be an athlete themselves! According to Mackenzie Trpcic, an athlete on the women’s basketball team, the bands gives her team “a sense of the home crowd.” But what does it mean to be a part of the Marching or Pep Bands? The Albany Student Press set out to find out.

From the band’s perspectives, it’s another home. It’s a place where music lovers and at UAlbany can gather together and share their passions with newfound friends.

“I really enjoy the entire pep band as a group,” junior Ben Shiller said. “It’s a group of talented musicians who are showing their spirit every game to make the experience that much more fun.”

Junior Erin Lynch, the section leader, loves the friendships she’s made over the last three years.

“Band is one of the few places you get to interact with people from all walks of life and all different majors on this campus, which means you open yourself up to friendships you never would have had the opportunity of making.”

Joining the band is also a great way of connecting with the athletes. Heather Forster, Trpcic’s teammate, loves the support and enthusiasm the band provides.

Not only do they use their free time to cheer us on at every home game, but they also made the long bus ride out to Maine to support us. The pep band has made up cheers for all of our players, posters for the championship game, and cheered us on at every game… I don’t think there’s anything they haven’t done to show their support for us.”

Oftentimes, it’s the band members that are the biggest fans. Obviously, students and community members come to the games and support the athletes, but it’s the musicians who put in hours and weeks of practice for their performances, just like the athletes.

“The bands are a part of our team and our basketball culture and without them, there wouldn’t be the atmosphere that they help to create,” Trpcic said. “Also…I do love it when they battle against a visiting band.”

Charlie Voelker, the associate athletic director, is incredibly proud of the bands.

“They’ve been a huge help to our atmosphere at our games. Kevin Champagne [the band director] has done an awesome job,” Voelker said. “I wish we had 500 band members, because they’re so enthused and they’re so spirited. I think they represent a lot of what being a student is all about. Not everybody plays sports. But you can be a part of it without playing sports, and they’re really a big part of it.”

Champagnes said the members of the band should have musical experience, although it’s not the end-all-be-all.

“The music we play is generally no harder than what they may have played in a high school pep band. There’s just a lot more of it,” Champagne said. “Every year we’ve had marching band we’ve had beginners. By the end of the semester they’re as good as everyone else.”

Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, head coach of the women’s basketball team, said the band creates a “sixth man” and gives UAlbany a “winning atmosphere.” When asked what impact she felt the bands had on the school, Coach Mac said, “A collegiate band really sets you apart from other schools because true school spirit and camaraderie shine through a great band – like the one we have here at UAlbany.”

“The band really pulls everyone in and creates an electrifying atmosphere,” Coach Mac said.

It’s safe to say, the band is doing its job to everyone’s liking.

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