Pep, pride and spirit

Ferris Pep Band raises questions on absence of marching band

Ferris Pep Band attends all the sporting events, providing students and the community with spirit, music and a sense of pride.

Eric Watson, Ferris senior in applied math, plays tenor saxophone for the pep band. He claims that playing for each sport is a different experience.

“The volleyball team seems to enjoy the band, so I enjoy playing for them,” Watson said. “Student-wise, I think we are enjoyed more [at volleyball]; community-wise we are enjoyed at football. I know a handful of students really enjoy us at the hockey games.”

Watson brings about another interesting point. They play for all sports, not just one. Most schools have a pep band specifically for basketball and then another to play for hockey.

Some weekends, referred to as “Hell Weekends,” occur when they play six games in the span of three days. They play for both men’s and women’s basketball on Thursday, hockey on Friday and then volleyball, football and hockey on Saturday.

Thankfully, they did not have one this semester, but the pep band will face one or two in the spring.

Watson is also the president of Kappa Kappa Psi, a professional fraternity for music. Just recently, they coordinated a marching band to perform during the Halloween parade in downtown Big Rapids.

While it was their third year in the parade, it was the first year they completely put it together themselves. The marching band was a hit and led people to question why Ferris does not have one.

Dr. Dale Skornia, faculty director of Athletic Pep Band, believes a marching band would fit well on campus.

“I think it would be a great addition to our growing band program here at Ferris,” Skornia said. “There appears to be a want for the marching band to come back.”

The original marching band was cut back in the ‘90s. Ferris is now only one of three schools in the conference that does not have a marching band.

Watson and fellow Kappa Kappa Psi members agree with Skornia.

“Marching band is something that would not only grow the music department, but actually build students’ leadership. It also adds more student ambassadors. Pep band is only 50 students; marching bands are around 100,” Watson said.

Both Watson and Skornia agree that Ferris has the resources to start a marching band. They have uniforms, some marching instruments and the old practice field. It would take time, however, to assemble the paperwork and find someone to write drills and coordinate a marching show.

“I believe [a marching band] is a few years out. It’s not going to happen overnight. With any program, it takes time to build,” Skornia said.

Currently, the pep band has around 60 members. Both Skornia and Watson wanted to remind students they are always welcome to get involved.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a little extra work, but you can make a lot of friends,” Watson said.

If anyone is interested in joining pep band, Skornia said new members are always welcome, even mid-semester.