By: Sam Thomas ’20
There’s a reason why nationally 17th-ranked Rhode Island missed the first free throw on the first shot of a one-and-one three times in the last minute of this season’s final home men’s basketball game. Sure, Belk Arena packed the punch in rowdiness, but any member of the Davidson Pep Band will tell you that Peter Whitehouse ‘18 and his trombone hat was a perfect 6 for 6 in terms of successful heckles before the final minute. It didn’t let us down.
Said Whitehouse of that final minute: “I had this feeling that Jared Terrell just couldn’t handle the pressure. And I knew he knew it too. So I just got real close and personal to let him know about my silly headwear. Did he miss those shots? Yeah. But does Terrell still hear me in his sleep? That’s what I was really going for.” Jonathan Lee ‘18 echoed the remarks: “It was unprecedented. Never has a single chirp had so much success.” EJ Canny ‘19 added, “You hear stories, but you’ll see it real life.”
And yet, while the methods may have been unorthodox, the band played a large part in orchestrating the energy of a true home-court advantage. They look to build up the competitive fire to push our teams over the threshold to victory, but it isn’t just through good music. Equally as important are cheers and jeers that are as obnoxious as they are creative, loud, and the pride of being Wildcats. Yet, win or lose, fans can expect to hear our fight-song echo through the rafters of the gym when the final buzzer sounds and again when our ‘Cats take the floor. Sure, the band may distract opponents on the free throw line, but where the advantage truly lies is in the infectious joy they bring to each game felt in fans and in the players.
Where some see timeout entertainment, Canny, Lee, and Whitehouse see a group of students who enjoy basketball, music, and who don’t take themselves too seriously. “The Pep Band seemed like a great way to play music in a much more casual setting than a typical ensemble,” said Canny. “I’m a pretty big basketball fan and I knew I would be attending the games anyways, but I was really shocked when I learned there is so much more to this band than simply playing an instrument.”
Most importantly, the pep band is place where this group of Waldo-adorned students create an impact on Davidson athletics. “If I had a vote for A-10 defensive player of the year, it’d probably be Peter’s trombone hat,” noted Max Rollfinke ‘21. Some may argue for other heckles, as Brendan Cassidy ‘19 does for the band’s epic rendition of Phil Collins’ “Coming in the Air Tonight” that threw off Kentucky’s Kevin Knox at the free throw line during March Madness, but the effect of these heckles are the same.
As Andrew Fay ‘19 explains, be it “the look on their faces that screams, ‘why is he wearing a musical instrument as a hat?’” or the beautiful vocals, opponents leave the court utterly distracted. If not distracted, at least they leave confused. Either way, job well done, pep band.
This past season was a season to remember for many reasons. The band will forage on to next season with the support of fellow Wildcats in the stands who will, relentlessly, share the same infectious perkiness of the band and make Belk Arena the best home-court advantage that we are all proud of sharing.