Pep Band at NCAA Tournament Games
Prof. Kevin Champagne and the UAlbany Pep Band were part of the excitement as they performed for basketball fans at the women's NCAA tournament games. Recently, Prof. Champagne was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to share some thoughts about the Pep Band's participation in March Madness:
"The Pep Band was lucky enough to be traveling again this year with the women's basketball team as they made it to the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight time. Thanks to the success of both the men's and women's teams, the band has previously traveled to Philadelphia, Ohio, Delaware, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana for the NCAA tournament. This year was slightly different for two reasons; our trip was not an overnight trip because it was in Syracuse, and more importantly, the women won their first NCAA tournament game!
When the NCAA selection announced our destination of Syracuse against the Florida Gators, there was a bit of disappointment as the band would have preferred playing Syracuse in Florida, but that slight disappointment was more than made up for with the team's victory.
For these games, the band is set up about ten feet behind the hoop, so we get a very good look at everything. The team had a brief lead, but that soon disappeared, and the Danes were down by 16 in the second half. Then our star player fouled out. That's really when the magic started. The band has known all along that this team is not just a one-player team, and while things seemed dire, we knew there was still a chance. Each possession brought the team closer as our team not only made most of their shots, but stopped Florida from scoring. Before we knew it, the clock had run out, and we were all celebrating. I allowed about five seconds of wild cheering and jumping up and down before counting the band in for "Purple and Gold," our fight song. Florida then played their fight song, and we closed out the celebration with our traditional "All I Do Is Win," with half the band standing on their chairs.
The NCAA games are always fun for the band, but only partially because of the basketball game. Of course, we get to see a front-row NCAA tournament game and very loudly cheer on our team (as well as make some suggestions to the refs). We also get to go head-to-head with bands from all over the country, in a friendly back-and-forth before the game and during half time as well as during timeouts. Some of these schools have very large and impressive music programs, but the UAlbany Pep Band has been able to hold their own for several years now. This is a big improvement from our first tournament in 2006 when we could only play about 15 songs as opposed to our current 40+ songs and when we didn't even have enough musicians to fill out the allowed 29 band members.
The Pep Band is winding down now that basketball is over, but we already have high hopes for both the men's and women's teams for next year!"
Prof. Champagne has been leading the Pep Band as well as our University Concert Band for over ten years now. And in the fall of 2013, he began leading our new Marching Great Danes Band. Prof. Champagne can be reached at (518) 442-4192 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.