by Milla Miller
On the evening of one of the many Nathan Hale varsity basketball games, people are everywhere. Cheerleaders stand on the sidelines and security stands ready along either end of the gym.
Front and center on one side of the bleachers sit about 30 students holding various wind instruments, from flutes to tubas, surrounded by yellow caution tape.
This is Nathan Hale’s pep band.
During both the girls and boys varsity games, the wind ensemble transforms into a pep band. Between plays and during halftime, they play upbeat, iconic songs such as “Seven Nation Army” and the Hale fight song, only resting during 3rd quarter.
While the older students have been playing since freshman year and are used to the routine, most of the freshman players were surprised at the pep band requirement.
“I signed up for jazz band, and because I signed up for jazz band I had to do wind ensemble, and because I had to do wind ensemble I had to do pep band,” Freshman Trumpet player Jaden Taylor explains. Although he wasn’t keen to join pep band in the beginning, he loves playing trumpet so he stuck with it anyways.
Other freshman, like bass clarinetist Mia Martin, shared similar anxieties, but also this love of musical study.
Along with these worries, students are playing for very large crowds this year. Many of whom are their very own peers, for a championship worthy team.
“Last time the game sold out before it even started and that was kind of crazy,” Martin explains. “So yeah, it can be kinda scary.”
Trumpet player Lillian Thomas agrees, but she knows how to work through it. “I’m around a lot of people so I kind of hide.” She explains that she’s been playing for a while and has experience in front of crowds during her formal concerts.
Students also admitted feeling unwanted and unnoticed in the beginning, but with the free VIP tickets and their band mates helping them through it, they found themselves enjoying it.
Martin was worried at the beginning of the school year when she felt pep band would’ve just added to the already heavy load she carries. With unavoidable sports, schoolwork, and family activities all year round, pep band could’ve been too much, especially at the beginning of freshman year. But soon after her first performance, she found that it was actually very fun.
Photo by Milla Miller