Pep returns to football season


photo by Skyler Glenn

Percussionist Matt Hurley plays bass drum at a Friday night football game. Many band students are excited to participate in pep band.

Amidst cheering students and clouds of baby powder, the marching band can be seen at Friday night football games playing “Seven Nation Army” and chanting encouragement to the football team. However, with a mask mandate and recommended social distancing for all school events, marching band was inevitably cancelled, leaving football games feeling a little lifeless for students. To compensate for the cancellation, administration gave small groups of musicians the go-ahead to perform at home football games.

“I frankly didn’t believe we would get to play at all this season because of the virus,” percussionist Jackson Kaplan said. “I’m happy about it, even though it’s not the ideal scenario.”

Band students received news of marching band’s fate over the summer, with the cancellation of the annual week-long band camp and announcement that the band would not have a halftime show or be able to perform in the stands, all due to safety concerns.

“When I heard that marching band was cancelled, I was so disappointed,” trombonist Trevor Thompson said. “It really was my favorite part of school.”

Despite this, there was a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel for band students: pep bands. Groups of 30 students were selected through auditions submitted earlier in the year to provide motivation and music to the football team, dancers, and cheerleaders. Band teacher Brian Kuperman was enthusiastic to provide this experience, since many consider band an essential part of a fun football game.

“The school asked us to create small pep bands to perform at home games,” Kuperman said. “We are really excited that students will have the opportunity to play.” 

Both students and teachers had safety concerns about how pep bands will be able to play their instruments while simultaneously limiting the spread of germs. To combat this, wind instruments will have filters over the bell and students will be required to social distance to the best of their ability. Additionally, the playing area will be vacated once every 30 minutes to allow for air circulation.

“Our biggest concern is the safety of our students. We haven’t had this many people play in a group yet,” Kuperman said. “We felt apprehensive to announce pep bands until we knew how we could make it happen safely.”

At the football game against Colonial on Oct. 16, only drumline was permitted to perform because of many uncertainties, such as how large the crowd would be and how cautious people were, according to Kuperman. 

“We’re trying to determine logistics for larger groups and how we can keep everyone safe and healthy,” Kuperman said. 

Band students are overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to experience a degree of what marching season was like, although it will remain unmatched.

“I’m just so excited to be in pep band with all of my friends,” Kaplan said. “I feel relaxed and comfortable, all while having a great time.”