LU Pep Band gets the crowd excited

Mary Born

There was terrible weather during Fall Festival last weekend, but that didn’t affect the high level of enthusiasm at the Banta Bowl. Parents were there, the cheerleaders performed, the home team was doing great – and the Lawrence University Pep Band made its debut. Despite the cold, dreary rain that steadily poured down all afternoon, the band had a great performance and accomplished what they had come to do: cheer on the players, enhance the atmosphere, and have fun. The Lawrence University Pep Band is completely new this year, and it seems their presence is already appreciated by fans and athletes alike. Immediately after their performance Saturday they were invited back to play every home game, and players were very enthusiastic about the support and pep they received from the band.
The band was conceived and founded by senior Rob Strelow. A transfer from UW-Fox Valley, Strelow had been in a pep band all four years in high school. He was always surprised that one did not exist on campus. “We have a whole campus full of musicians. Why shouldn’t we have one?” Strelow says. He voiced his ideas to none other than university president Jill Beck, who loved the idea and immediately supported it. The band was finally on its way.
Strelow began recruiting musicians from both the Conservatory and the College, and got some preliminary music from the Sinfonia House. However, it wasn’t necessarily easy to get support in the beginning. “Some people think pep band music is beneath them,” Strelow says of those who said the band wasn’t practical, or a waste of time. Nonetheless, the number of students who were interested far outweighed the negative response, and the pep band began to have its first practices to prepare for Saturday’s Fall Festival game.
The music you’ll hear at the football games from the band includes a wide variety of rock ‘n’ roll songs, such as “Eye of the Tiger,” “Hang on Sloopy,” and selections by Santana and Eric Clapton. There will also be the usual “charge” fanfares and other things one would expect a pep band to play to fire up the crowd and the players on the field. There were 15 musicians there on Saturday, and enough volume that the band could be heard from nearby houses.
The band is very low-key, and primarily concerned with having fun while playing music. “You can’t play these kinds of songs with a group of people in this environment and not have fun,” says Strelow. Practices are scheduled according to when the next home game is, and everyone who can make it is welcome to come; however players are encouraged to just show up at the games if they are unable to make practices. This environment makes it possible for students to participate despite busy and sometimes hectic schedules.
Anyone interested in being a part of the band should e-mail Strelow to be put on the mailing list for get updates about rehearsals and performances. The pep band is a great addition to the Lawrence University campus, and as Strelow so eloquently puts it, “It’s a rock ’em sock ’em good time.