Students start, run pep band for campus events
UPDATE: In appreciation of their efforts, Student Affairs named the Corsair Athletic Band, "Student Organization of the Year" for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Few groups on campus bring the enthusiasm and entertainment that the Corsair Athletic Band does. Whether providing entertainment at Open House or Blue & Gold Weekend, or hyping up the home crowd during the football team’s historic season, the team of 15 perform on such an organized schedule and at such a high level that one would be surprised to learn this is only their second year as a group.
"A group of students had previously tried to get a band going from 2017-18 until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Athletic Facilities and Events Assistant, Frank Sherman. "By the time we were allowed to get a band back at athletic events, all the members had graduated, so we were back to square one.
"This current group is a great bunch of highly motivated students and they've really blown up this year now that they have a drum line in place. They're taking it on themselves to get funding, gather equipment, and recruit more students so they can grow. They make the atmosphere at any athletic event so much better. It's great for the team and our fans."
With limited to no attendance at sporting events on every level in 2020 and 2021, not only did participation in UMassD's Pep Band crumble, but high school juniors and seniors unknowingly performed for their respective schools for the last time. When computer science major Annette Limoges (North Attleboro, MA) arrived on campus in the fall of 2020, she knew she wasn't done performing.
"I'd been planning to revive the band as things opened up during the spring semester of 2021," said Limoges, founder and President of the band. "I found a couple other students who were interested on campus, made a long-term goal of establishing a full-on marching band, and got to work recruiting more students at Admitted Students Days and other campus events."
The band performed for the first time in the fall of 2021 and has already doubled in size year over year. To become a marching band, the group needs another 15 students to establish a horn line, pit band, and color guard.
By not only participating in the pep band, but founding, leading, and working to grow it as well, its inaugural members are developing real-world entrepreneurial and managerial experience.
"I love being a leader and inspiring others to lead. We're building a foundation of a band that'll hopefully continue to grow long after we graduate," said sophomore bioengineering major and Secretary of the band, Mike Barboza (Somerset, MA). "People love the band here. I hear from people in the athletic department, people passing by in the dining hall, and even alumni reaching out that they really appreciate the energy and atmosphere we bring to games and to campus, which is really rewarding."
"This is my first experience with leadership, which will be very valuable as I advance through my career hopefully into a management position," said Limoges. "It's taught me how to accept failure, learn from it, and grow from it. As a leader, I have to talk to people and be charismatic, which has helped me to make friends and grow my network."
Beyond the musical, managerial, organizational, and communication skills developed by running the band, its leaders are also thankful for the social interactions being part of the team creates.
"The band, like the rest of this campus, is a close-knit community," said Barboza. "It's easy to make friends. Most band people would agree that band people are different people, and those are my people. Being part of the band is more than just playing music, it's forming friendships that'll last a long time."
Perhaps no one is as big a fan of the band as the student-athletes whose game atmospheres are positively impacted. The noise and energy brought to Cressy Field this season helped the football team's defense stymie opponents to a MASCAC conference-best 14 points per game and a 5-0 record at home.
"The band has been absolutely awesome the last two years," said football captain and defensive lineman Mekhi Geter. "The whole team felt their presence and we are extremely grateful for their support. They were able to showcase their talents and keep the crowd engaged and tuned in. They are a big part of the successful culture the football program is trying to maintain here, and I would love to see them grow to become a marching band real soon!"
Curious about joining the Corsair Athletic Band? Annette and Mike have answered some common FAQs below.
Pep Band FAQs
What's the time commitment like?
We rehearse for three hours every week (Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6:30 – 8pm), attend home football games in the fall, men's basketball and women's basketball games in the winter, and events like Open House, Blue & Gold Weekend, and Admitted Students Days as well.
Can students of any major join?
Yes! And you can earn an elective credit by enrolling in MUS 161-11. We actually only have one music major in our group at the moment. We welcome anyone who knows how to play an instrument!
Is previous experience in a pep or marching band required?
No. If you play music, the more the merrier.
Do I bring my own instrument?
If you have your own and want to bring it, you're welcome to! Some of us borrow instruments from the College of Visual & Performing Arts' wind ensemble and jazz orchestra, and we've bought some bass drums for our drum line.