Under the Knife: Pep Band trumpets hockey spirit

A weekend Ice Knights hockey game wouldn't have the same spirit without the efforts of the loud and proud Ice Knights Pep Band rousing the crowd and cheering on the team.

In 2005, music enthusiast Justin Swackhamer founded the pep band, a grassroots organization that serves as a motivational force for both players and fans alike. The band originally found its niche playing at basketball games.

Although they started with just one trumpet-playing member in their opening year, the band has now expanded to roughly 30 talented musicians that perform at hockey games.

"It's a great experience because we create a positive and energized atmosphere for everyone," said senior Alice Brunet.

Funded predominantly by alumni donations, the band has recently added a new drum set and guitar and also boasts an enhanced brass section that includes tubas, trombones, baritones and a horn.

The band follows the team to some away games at schools such as Fredonia and Brockport.

"Some schools won't allow us there," said Brunet. "I guess, in the past, we have been louder than their fans and perhaps the atmosphere we create gets inside other teams' heads."

The Ice Knights pep band is the first in Division III hockey and has inspired the conception of a pep band at both Fredonia and Potsdam. This has created something of a rivalry between bands, leading to inter-band battles, challenges that reveal which pep band has greater selection and quality of music.

The band tailors its repertoire to the desires of the crowd and the hockey team.

"All These Things That I've Done," a fan favorite, was added due to the request of an Ice Knight several years ago. Other favorites include "500 Miles," and "Hockey Night in Canada."

The ambiance is not limited to just singing and playing, however, as the team excitedly joins in on cheers instigated by its members and the crowd.

It is thought that the band's resonant presence has increased game attendance, attracted hockey players to Geneseo over other schools and even played a decisive role in the outcome of some games.

The pep band is a low stress, low time commitment organization which "plays relatively easy music if you come with a little experience," said Brunet. They practice on Wednesdays from 8 to 9 p.m. in the Wilson Ice Arena and welcome new members. For more information, the band can be contacted at pepband@geneseo.edu.

The Ice Knights Pep Band can be seen next performing in the ice arena as the Ice Knights battle Brockport on Nov. 7, Potsdam on Nov. 14, and Plattsburgh on Nov. 15.