Pep Band Brings Spirit to Fordham Community

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Pep Band Brings Spirit to Fordham Community

Fordham pep band cheers on the women's basketball team. (Courtesy of Chiara Giammatteo)

Fordham pep band cheers on the women's basketball team. (Courtesy of Chiara Giammatteo)

Fordham pep band cheers on the women's basketball team. (Courtesy of Chiara Giammatteo)

Fordham pep band cheers on the women's basketball team. (Courtesy of Chiara Giammatteo)

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By Sarah Huffman

Attendees at any Fordham basketball game can always spot a group of maroon-clad individuals, holding instruments and using all their energy to cheer on the team.

This is the Fordham pep band, a group of 26 musically-inclined individuals that dedicate their time to bringing school spirit to various sporting events throughout the academic year. They are a staple within Fordham athletics.

The pep band plays at every home football game in the fall and men’s and women’s basketball games in the winter, only traveling for tournaments.
Since the women’s basketball team won the A-10 Championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament, the pep band’s season was longer than usual, performing at around 20 basketball games this season.

The pep band does not mind dedicating their time, though. President Chiara Giammatteo, FCRH ’21, said the pep band generally cares a lot about the sports teams and wants to see them do well. She said they often make signs and start chants as another spirit squad for the sports teams.

“I like to think we make a difference at athletic games. We get everyone fired up and the players feel like they have someone backing them up,” she said.

“I’m such a big fan of the pep band because they are so passionate about what they do. At games where attendance is often lacking, the pep band is always there, giving it their all each and every time,” said Charlotte Utschig, FCRH ‘21, a member of the pep band.

Giammatteo said the band was very excited to see the women’s basketball team win the A-10 Championships. She said the coaches even waved the band onto the court when they were receiving the trophy. After that, she said they got to go through the process of finding out where they were going to be part of the NCAA tournament.

“We had to go to this whole other tournament. That was really exciting, because it’s only happened one time before in 2014. No one in the band has ever gone before. It was a long season, but we got see them do really, really well,” she said.

Giammatteo said the band doesn’t interact much with the football team or the men’s basketball team, but if they see them go by on the court, they high-five them.

“We feel personally involved with them, because we’re always cheering them on. We’re always keeping up with how they’re doing,” she said.

She said they feel closer with women’s team, especially because of the longer season this year. When they went to Pittsburgh, the band visited the hotel where the women’s team’s was staying and lined up in the lobby to play the fight song and send them out onto the bus.

Giammatteo said the women’s team reciprocates the support. She said the athlete’s parents told them how supportive they were and one time the women’s team bought the band dessert. She said there were even rumors of setting up a women’s team versus band basketball game.

“They are amazing and the games just wouldn’t be the same without them. Even if you’re not into sports, for example, I’m not, I recommend turning out to the games just to see the pep band work their magic,” said Utschig.

Giammatteo said the group is fun to spend time with outside of rehearsals and games. They spend a lot of time researching the other teams and making signs together.

“It’s a pretty well-oiled machine. We have such a good time at rehearsals,” said Giammatteo.

The pep band is the student-run branch of the Fordham University band and orchestra. The director of the orchestra, Brian Reynolds, a Fordham alumnus himself, conducts the orchestra and advises the pep band.

Giammatteo said the band program used to be completely separate from the music department, but they have recently become more cohesive. The department and band advertise for each other and being in orchestra earns credits. Music majors also have to be in an ensemble, so a lot of majors and minors complete the requirement through pep band.

The two ensembles are separate entities, but Giammatteo said a lot of the same people are in both. The orchestra is a more formal ensemble, with a concert at the end of the semester, while the pep band is more casual, playing popular music.

“It is definitely not less about musicianship, but it’s less about the study of music and more to make everyone else have a good time,” said Giamatteo about the band. “We’re studying music, but we’re also supporting the basketball team. It goes hand in hand.”

Giammatteo said that while the band members are enthusiastic about the games and school spirit, the music is the most important part of being in the band.

Fordham has a rich band history that includes a military band, similar to a marching band. She said she hopes to continue to grow the band program and get to a point where school events of all kinds will reach out to the pep band and invite them to play.

“It’s a really big part of campus culture. Our program is not as big, but it’s important to have and to get the crowd excited,” she said. “Join band. It’s not too late and anyone can join.”