Upon the end of a busy academic week, each student decompresses in their own way (some legal, others not). For many, weekends in October to March are for one thing: hockey. Fans make their way to Goggin in droves to watch our beloved RedHawks, ready to scream their heads off cheering. Students and locals pack into the arena, and are led in cheers by the one and only Band of the Brotherhood — Miami’s Pep Band.
Even if you’re not a hockey fan, no Miami experience is complete without taking in what these student-musicians have to offer. Simply put, the band sets the tone for the fans at the game. This wacky group of musicians, fueled by pop and hot dogs between periods, are the catalysts for many of the cheers and celebrations.
On Friday night, for the first game against Denver, students were lined up to get the coveted seats in the front row, right on the glass, and they spoke about how the band livens up the game. Whether winning or losing, the students said the band keeps the crowd in high spirits.
Aaron Yonka, a fan known for proudly waving a hockey stick (adorned with lights and a Miami flag) from his seat at center ice, shared his thoughts on the spirit of the band. Yonka highlighted not only the way the band leads the fans by starting the music, but also how they are the loudest and rowdiest fans. He pointed out that games played during J-term are always much less lively without the band.
Father and son, Jamie and Bryce of Hamilton, spoke about how special the band is. Bryce, 5-years-old and too shy to talk, let his father cut in during the interview when he spoke about how unique the game experience is with the Band of the Brotherhood.
“You never get to see a band like this at say a professional hockey game. The way they create the energy so organically is incredible,” Jamie said.
Aside from drawing the admiration of many fans, young and old, for their musical stylings, the band receives attention because of their antics during the game.
When asked about what people like to see other than the scripted music, freshman percussionists Chris Paxton and Casey Reazin glanced at one another and answered, “The goofiness.”
They spoke to that point by mentioning how, even when the music cuts out during play, the band continues singing and heckling the other team, always capping it off with a hearty “Sieve!”
After sitting down across the arena and watching the band, I still can’t tell if I am more impressed with the flawlessly synchronized dancing of the flutes and clarinets or the hilarious shenanigans of the tuba players in the back. If you have a chance, I would recommend just watching the band and seeing the hijinks they get into during the game.
Though plenty of fun, according to senior trumpet player Kevin Kraus, the band means infinitely more to the members. Kraus spoke to his many seasons as a part of the band. Strangely enough, he has never been to a hockey game unless it was as a part of the band.
He says one of his favorite traditions is when Mr. Shriver, the PA announcer, waves at the one minute mark. Shriver waves at everyone, but the band waits until he specifically points at them to wave.
Likewise, after a goal, a member of the band is chosen as the one to begin the chant of “Ready! 1, 2, we want mooooore goals…” and so on (this tradition being led by the most senior member).
Kraus told me that being a part of this band has not only given him an opportunity to travel, but to also meet some really great people who he now calls his friends.
After speaking with many in the band, as well as the fans, it’s hard to not walk away with a deeper appreciation for the work they put into making the games so enjoyable. The band sets the tone for the game, and they keep the fans engaged throughout.
They help soften the blow of defeat, and sweeten the taste of victory. Yonka likely said it best when he said, “The fans are led by the band. Period.”