It’s that time of year again. Basketballs have been dusted off, plucked from their storage closet, and thrown into the limelight for Eastern’s winter sports season. With their slick pant-suit warm-ups and swift moves on the court, it can be easy to mistake the team for the main focus of the game. But the rest of the world knows the real reason those gym stands fill up to the brim: for a chance to see, that’s right, the pep band.
The Forest Hills Eastern pep band is as elusive as it is renowned. The lines between legend and legacy of its glorious talent have all but blurred completely. The reason for its mysterious nature? Simple – the pep band makes only rare appearances in the basketball season. Its celebrity status has prevented it from becoming too common a commodity on game day.
The honorable Mr. Boelkins himself (12-time winner of the National ‘Peppiest Band’ award and Eastern’s illustrious band director) made one short comment through the pressing crowd that surrounded him after last year’s game: “you see, the attention the pep band takes away from the game, well, it just isn’t fair to the players. They train all week at practice, and their fans are distracted the entire game as they jam along to our music.” Mr. Boelkins even shared that “one game, when our bodyguard personnel couldn’t be there to escort the pep band members through their adoring crowd of fans, it took the band 30 minutes to reach the band room.” When asked what caused the delay, he explained that it was the rush for autographs from the pep band members and, though the humble Mr. Boelkins wouldn’t take credit, for his own autograph as well.
Ever since their rise to fame, the pep band has made one to two highly anticipated appearances per year. For the sake of crowd control, these dates are rarely released to the public. Instead, the pep band gathers in the band room on the selected night and, after the bodyguards signal the all-clear, march the short distance from the band room to the gym – all to the beat of the drumline. At the sound of the syncopating drums, it is not uncommon for the fans to rise to their feet and greet the distinguished pep band. Even as the fans cheer and shout for the approaching band, they consider their luck that they had chosen today of all days to see the basketball team play.
As much as the band members wish to acknowledge their fans, they keep their emotions beneath the surface on the march down and express the highest professionalism – their minds trained only on stepping to the beat. But, as the pep band files into their seats sectioned off for their use, the music allows for a break from their stoic demeanor, and the jubilant smiles remain for the game. It can be difficult to tell who is having more fun – the fans in the stands as they sway to the beat, stomp their feet, or even sing along, or the pep band: lost in a rhythm of melody and music, entwining the harmonies around the steady rif of percussion.
The pep band’s celebrity status has only been increasing in recent years, which accounts for the recent news that the pep band will be making only one appearance this basketball season. The good news? An inside scoop has provided the much-anticipated date: Tuesday, January 11th’s varsity basketball home game. That’s right everyone. Next Tuesday. So waste no time in clearing your schedules and spreading the word. You heard it here first: it will be a night to remember.