This winter, there will be no “Louie Louie” or “Crazy Train” at Cobber basketball games.
The Cobber Athletic Band performs classics like these at many home football games in the fall and, in previous years, basketball games in the winter. However, due to decreased student participation in the colder months, the ensemble has decided to take the winter off.
“I had been noticing over the last several years, with some feedback from student conductors of past generations, that there were certain Saturdays in the winter where it was hard to get people for pep band,” said Dr. Nathaniel Dickey, the group’s conductor. “There’s always been a core of students who like winter pep band, but there’s a critical mass that’s needed to make each one really feels like it’s worthwhile.”
In addition to decreased participation in the winter, Dickey cited a shrinking budget as a reason to take the season off.
“We’ve been talking about a source of funding for the snacks and the pizza and things like that and realizing that the combination of those two factors might make sense for us to have a year where we don’t do winter pep band,” Dickey said.
Dickey directs the Cobber Athletic Band along with student conductors, including junior Christina Prince. One downside of taking the winter off is that student directors do not get as much experience as they normally would, directing for one semester instead of two. However, Prince remains optimistic.
“In football I learned a lot and it was really fun to work with everyone in it,” Prince said. “I don’t have to do it on Saturdays anymore, it’s kind of nice to have that time open.”
Senior Maida Berg has been involved in the athletic band for over a year, and is disappointed that she will not be able to play for her final semester.
“I’m a senior this year, so even if they bring back winter pep band, I won’t be here to play anymore. I understand why they had to cut it though. Money and lack of participants are big factors, so if anything good comes from cutting pep band this winter, hopefully it’s that people will realize how much they miss it and want to help more,” Berg said.
Moving forward, the decision to bring athletic band back in the winter will be a collaborative effort between Dickey and the students. In an email to his band students informing them of the decision, Dickey expressed his wishes to receive feedback from students. However, he expects that many will share the same reaction as Prince.
“If enough students are passionate about winter pep band, we can reinstate it, but I would suggest we see how this winter goes. January and February are busy times on campus, and you may find that you welcome having your Saturdays available for other things,” Dickey wrote.
Despite this, he still urges the band members to participate as the audience at games.
“You are certainly welcome and encouraged to attend any and all athletic events as a spectator,” Dickey wrote.