Pep band adds spirit to athletic contests

imageVisitors to some SUNY Oswego athletic events may hear a different tune, through the recent emergence of the Laker Pep Band.

The band’s live performances, mainly heard at hockey games, aim to give Laker sports more energy and team spirit. The pep band’s director and president, Hunter Schoenfeld, hopes to expand the number of venues and sports at which the group appears.

Organizers of the inaugural Laker Days festival approached the music department with the idea of creating pep band to play at Laker hockey games during last January’s event. The department nominated Schoenfeld, a senior secondary education major, who recruited from such ensembles as the Concert Band, College-Community Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble. After a successful two-game stint at Laker Days 2004, the band has appeared at several hockey games since.

Schoenfeld said he agreed to organize the pep band to give something positive back. “The music professors here are awesome. They know so much,” Schoenfeld said. “What makes it all worthwhile is just to give back to the music department and get that positive reaction from the fans.”

He said the band has since received support from the athletes, fans, the music department and especially from the athletic department, who has helped with stands and uniforms.

Greg Lomedico, a senior biology major and trumpeter, remembers the initial response. “I didn’t think we would hear anything from anybody, there was just a few of us,” Lomedico said. “But apparently people from the athletic department came up to us and asked if we wanted to do this full time. They thought it was good for the school, good for the team and good for the atmosphere.”

Students interviewed at a recent game agreed. “It was nice to hear real music like that,” junior biology major Whitney Lash said. Jenny Hawley, a junior sociology major and Laker hockey fan, said she thought the pep band was good for school spirit.

Schoenfeld said the group has grown to about 30 to 35 members, including college students and Oswego community members. The experience is fun and not too demanding, making it a great opportunity for college musicians, Schoenfeld said. The group only plays on weekends because that’s when everyone’s schedules seem to work best, he added.

Popular selections include “Tequila,” “Rock and Roll (The ‘Hey’ Song)” and “La Bamba.” Senior secondary education major and trombonist Rob Talamo said the songs are configured to the arena. “These pieces are real short, they get to the point, and we play only the melodies,” he said. “Real simple arrangements, more for volume than for intonation.”

Schoenfeld hopes that the pep band will become a permanent fixture. “If you go to a game when the band is there and when the band is not there, you can feel the energy difference,” he said. “Because I know I do.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: They’ve got pep—The Laker Pep Band has been entertaining visitors to some SUNY Oswego hockey games after forming during Laker Days 2004. Club President Hunter Schoenfeld, bottom right, said he would like to see the group expand its role on campus, including playing for other sporting events. The more than two dozen campus and community members of the pep band include, bottom row from left, Sara Hromowyk, Jacki Kelly, Rachel Roessel, Stephanie King and Schoenfeld; middle row, Matt Waskiewicz, Joe Slowik and Steve Manno; back row, Chris Nagle, Elliot Tardif and Keith Himes.

(Posted: Jan 26, 2005)