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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Fan experience: Making the band

Heather Newberry
The Pride of Arizona band performs during the McDonald’s Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.

Nothing excites students quite like game day — basketball game day, that is. The prospect of an evening spent in McKale Center cheering on head coach Sean Miller’s men’s basketball team is the definition of an ideal night to many.

“The student section is super lively. They’ll be cheering and jumping up and down,” student Carly Connell said. Connell, who often works concessions at the games, noted that she can often clearly hear the ZonaZoo from all the way across the stadium.

One of the main differentiating characteristics between the Wildcats and their various opponents is the combination of the incredible fan section, the ZonaZoo, and the UA Pep Band. The award-winning student fan section and the Pep Band make the entire game experience much more exciting and interactive for students.

“[The excitement of the students] energizes the rest of the community… the band plays a big part in promoting that excitement,” Connell said.

For many students, the Pep Band — a smaller selection of band members from the Pride of Arizona band — and its ability to create hype throughout the game are what make the basketball experience enjoyable and memorable. 

“We aim to constantly lead cheers to support our team and energize the crowd. When it’s our time to play, we strive to play rousing tunes to get the crowd on their feet,” Pep Band member Andrew Morton said. 

Morton is currently in his fourth year of membership in the Pride of Arizona band and is one of the two alto saxophone section leaders.

Throughout the game, the Pep Band strives to excite the crowd in whatever ways they can, whether that means coordinating their music with the cheer team or having a broad selection of songs ready to be played at any given moment.

“We play a wide variety of music from funky songs to today’s top hits,” Morton said. “The band works to do whatever is needed to get the crowd as engaged and involved in the game as possible.”

However, this readiness and adaptability that the Pep Band must exhibit comes with a lot of hard work behind the scenes, as most performances do. The Pride of Arizona practices for 11-and-a-half hours every week, and the Pep Band practices for an additional two hours every week.

“We constantly put music first. We believe that excellence is a habit, and we demonstrate that through our music,” Morton said.

Granted, it’s a lot easier to get the student section pumped up about such a winning team as the men’s basketball team, but it’s a major feat nonetheless. The general craze surrounding the games, especially the home games, and the competition to even get tickets speak to what unique and memorable experiences these games are.

“I think since our basketball team is really good, students like to go [to so many of the games] because they like to see our school succeed. The games are more often than football games, too. It’s just nice to see us win all the time,” Connell said.

While the band performs at other sporting events, such as football games, the enthusiasm they bring into McKale Center throughout the men’s basketball season is second to none.

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