The University of Richmond pep band is composed of professional musicians, many of whom are graduates of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Although Richmond students are invited to play with the band and sometimes do, the core group of members consists of people from outside the university. Many of the members are part of local group No BS! Brass Band said David Hood, director of the pep band.
Senior Andrew Pericak is one of about 10 Richmond students who sometimes play with the band, he said. He plays the mellophone.
“I am probably the most consistent member,” he said. “But I will say that there have been more students this year than in the past.” Pericak has played for the band since his first year at Richmond, and goes to most of the games unless he has another commitment, he said.
There is not enough consistent student interest to form an exclusively Richmond undergraduate band, he said, but if students were aware of the band’s come-and-go policy, they would be more inclined to join for some games.
Pericak enjoys playing with the members of No BS! because he thinks they are highly talented, he said. He said he didn’t think there was a loyalty issue in having VCU graduates play in the Richmond pep band.
“I think they enjoy the atmosphere in general,” he said. “I think they’re just interested to see which team wins.”
John Hulley, who plays trombone for No BS! and the pep band, is a VCU graduate who loves the Spiders, he said.
Hulley’s sister went to law school at Richmond, and he said he had always secretly supported the Spiders and the Rams.
Other members of the pep band who attended VCU said they loved the Spiders and enjoyed their job rallying Richmond fans, even when their alma mater’s team was visiting the Robins Center.
Marcus Tenney, a 2008 graduate of VCU, was part of his school’s pep band for one year, but he said he didn’t feel weird about playing music for Richmond now, although it was difficult watching the Rams play the Spiders.
“It’s hard because I want both to win,” Tenney said.
Dillard Watt, a bass trombonist who also graduated from VCU, said it was harder to watch the two teams compete now that they were in the same conference. But he cheered for both, he said, especially when both teams made NCAA tournament appearances two years ago.
The athletics department staff is in charge of hiring the band, and Jana Ross, the assistant athletic director, said that the combination of hiring professional and student musicians had been effective.
The music department is uninvolved in the direction of the pep band. Ross said that before moving to hire professional musicians six years ago, the athletics department members had met with other departments on campus to discuss options for leadership, oversight and responsibility for the band.
Pericak said he thought involving the music department would require an extra time commitment from music faculty and would cost more money.
Although there has been little student interest in the pep band, Pericak said he did not think it was because of a lack of school spirit. He said that when he looked up at the student section during games, he saw a consistent group of supporters.
Contact reporter Avery Shakelford at firstname.lastname@example.org