by Anthony DePinho
It’s a Friday night in Draddy Gymnasium as the women’s basketball team is slated to face off against the Iona Gaels. The 6th Borough student section is full and the crowd has made its way to the seats. But in an otherwise subdued buildup to the game, there is one pocket of the Spirit Squad that is always ready to ramp up the volume and support the Jaspers loud and clear: The Manhattan College Pep Band. They welcome the teams with the Manhattan College March, and it is officially game time in the Bronx.
But despite all their success on this night and to this point, the remainder of the regular season in Draddy is not the only thing the Jasper Band has left to look forward to on its schedule.
“The MAAC Tournament is always so much fun,” said Charlie Carway, a senior clarinet player and four-year member of the Pep Band. “I didn’t really appreciate basketball before joining Pep Band, but [it’s] probably the most fun I’ve ever had in college with all the games we do and all the traveling we do in the MAAC.”
Carway is referring to the MAAC Basketball Tournament, which is scheduled to take place on March 2 through 6 at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. While the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams compete on the court, they are not the only squads from MC to make their way up to the state capital, as they are joined by the Cheer Squad, the Jasper Dancers, and, of course, the Pep Band.
While in Albany, the band will have ample opportunity to show their MC spirit. In addition to performing at all games in which the Jaspers play, the band has a further chance to show the conference its best stuff.
“The Band Jam is always really cool,” said Cristopher Urban-Klein, junior trumpet player and President of the Pep Band. “We always rock it and blow everyone else out of the water.”
Aaron Mayorga/The Quadrangle
The morning before the first basketball games are played, the Pep Bands of all the competing schools in the MAAC gather and play two or three songs each, according to Urban-Klein. He says it’s one of the big events of the tournament, as fans, parents, and friends all gather to take part in the fun.
Whether the atmosphere is a competitive one or not seems up for debate.
“The tournament is a pretty big deal,” said Jake Robinson, the first-year Director of the Pep Band. “From what I’ve heard, our band is way better and we always take the cake.”
Carway, a four-year veteran, views the Jam more modestly.
“Some people may see it as a competition… We play with each other,” Carway said. “I see it as non-competitive… It’s a great opportunity to see what other bands are like, and show off our own unique things too.”
But regardless the amount of competition involved, a common point that was stressed is the need for hard work and preparation to represent MC well at the tournament.
“The preparation [for the MAAC] starts early in the season for sure,” says Urban-Klein. “We want to add one more good song to what we have, and touch up what we have already to make it sound as great as possible.”
Urban-Klein also commented on the team’s ability to learn new music quickly as a good sign for the rest of the season to come.
“We played “Confident” by Demi Lovato for the first time the other day and memorized it in an hour which was pretty impressive. I think as the season goes on we just have to keep sounding better and better,” he added.
Anthony DePinho/The Quadrangle
Robinson echoed much of the same feelings as the band’s President.
“A lot of the music most of the band knew already, and I had to come in and learn it,” Robinson said. “So my job is to clean it up, add a few new tunes to our repertoire, and then we’ll get to go to the MAAC and blow the other teams away… I’m looking forward to it, and I think the band is sounding better than ever.”
There are still a few weeks to go until the tournament, but in the meantime, the Pep Band will continue to rock Draddy with their new uniforms, creative basketball net hats, and their creative antics that make us all proud to support the Jaspers.