Undergraduate Programs

Pep Band: Loud, Proud, and Full of Spirit

Introduction to Me!

When I committed to Clarkson I was unsure how I would adjust to campus and college life, so naturally, I began to research different ways I could get on campus early. I began my first semester at Clarkson by attending the pep band pre-orientation. Pre Orientation is a way for incoming freshmen to get on campus early and meet other students with similar interests. 

I arrived on campus and was greeted by the members of the Pep Band. They helped my parents move all my things from the car up, two flights of stairs to my new home for the next year. I was then brought to the campus safety office where I received my room key and registered my car. After I was all moved in I said my goodbyes to my mom and dad and headed to the first pre-orientation event.

The band showed me and all the other freshmen around, and we played some ice breaker games on Cheel lawn to get to know one another. That first week was spent getting to know the campus, and meeting other freshmen and upperclassmen who all shared a love for playing music. We ate every meal together as a family whether that was out at a local Potsdam restaurant or on-campus made by the upperclassmen in their apartments. We also played games such as sardines and scavenger hunts to familiarize ourselves with different academic buildings. Apart from staying on campus, the band also brought us to various locations around Potsdam and the neighboring towns. We visited Ives Park where we had lunch and spent the day at the local beach where we swam, read, played spike ball, and built sandcastles. 

While pre-orientation trips are designed to help incoming freshmen familiarize themselves with the campus, it was also a wonderful opportunity to meet people with similar interests and hobbies. The people I met on this orientation trip came from all different backgrounds and majors. Throughout the year I was able to reach out to a biology major to help me edit my research paper and a math minor who helped me study for my statistics final exam. From just one week immersed in the pep band, I was able to feel a strong camaraderie with others, and understand what a family-like bond an organization can instill amongst its members. 

Pep Band History

For some background as to what exactly Pep band does, here is some history. Pep band was founded in 1964. Standing in section 17 in Cheel arena pep band was established as a way to cheer on the Golden Knights Hockey team. Pep band is a student-run club that in terms of the members is more like one loud, proud, and spirited family. Comprised of 40-80 members pep band is a cohort of lifetime musicians and people who have never even picked up sheet music. The main focus of the Pep band is to practice and play music in the student section of Cheel Arena during both the women’s and men’s hockey teams, but most importantly keep the student section on their feet cheering through every second of the game. In order to prepare for the games, the band meets inside Cheel Arena to practice every week.

Practice is run by the student conductor who is elected at the end of each year. Other members of the executive board include the president, vice president, business manager, historian, social media chair, and freshman representative. These positions allow for the band to run smoothly and stay organized during the chaos that is hockey season. 

Members of the Clarkson Pep Band play instruments at Cheel Arena at Clarkson University during a hockey game.

While playing at hockey games is what Pep band is most predominantly known for, the band is not confined to the walls of Cheel. The band has played at various campus events such as Holcroft night, a celebration for the new freshman class, and different on-campus career fairs, as well as end-of-the-year celebrations and academic presentations. The band also travels off-campus to support our team at away games, from Brown, Cornell, Colgate, Quinnipiac, Yale, Dartmouth, and most recently Lake Placid for the ECAC Championships. These trips are not just a way to bring Clarkson school spirit around the east coast, but they are times that allow the band to bond and experience new cities, and experiences together.

Two Clarkson Pep Band members participate in a game on the ice during an intermission. One is pulling the other on a sled.

While the name may imply it is just a band, Pep band does much more than just play music. For every holiday that they will be together, they celebrate in their own way, making Clarkson a home for holidays. One of my favorite band traditions I was able to experience this year was band thanksgiving. Everyone brings some form of Thanksgiving side dish and the upperclassmen cook turkeys in their kitchen. Together the band shares what they are thankful for while socializing and enjoying a great meal before we headed home for Thanksgiving break. Some of my other favorite traditions have been when the band went apple picking and I was able to enjoy some of the best apple cider donuts I have ever had. Every tradition is special for different reasons, and it is something that brings the band closer together and makes lasting memories. 

Lasting Impacts

Being a freshman, I have not had much experience when it comes to the lasting impacts Pep band has had on my academic and personal life. To better understand that, I sat down with junior, and the president of the band for the 2021-2022 academic year, Caroline Mareau. 

A group of ~30 students from Clarkson's Pep Band pose for a photo during a group outing.

As a junior Caroline has seen just how important it is to be a part of a club and organization that is not only a fun family environment but one that has set her apart in her academics. As a junior, she holds the executive or e-board position of president. This position taught her leadership which is something that scholarship committees and job recruiters look for in an applicant. She explained how her role in the band set her apart from others when it comes to applying for an internship and jobs. During interviews, it has been something she can really talk about and show her commitment and enthusiasm to an organization, along with demonstrating her leadership and teamwork skills. 

The band also has strong alumni connections with people from all over the country, if you have an aspiring dream, chances are there is a band alumni that will be there to help you. 

The Future

When I first step foot on campus I was terrified. I was six hours away from home and did not know anyone. I am so thankful that my first interactions on campus were with this wonderful group of people. Everywhere I go I am able to find someone in the band and I am always greeted with a smile and a conversation. The band itself is a crazy, loud, enthusiastic group that makes Clarkson feel like a home away from home. It is an accepting, diverse, and enthusiastic group of positive and wonderful students and alumni. 

If you are interested in music, enjoy having fun, and want to make strong personal connections and memories that last a lifetime, the pep band family is for you. It does not matter if you are an incoming freshman or someone in their last semester, everyone is welcome. Be a part of 58 years of tradition, that will continue for many years to come.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Clarkson University pep band you can visit their website at clarksonpepband.org or check out their Instagram

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