Alumni Magazine Summer 2014 - page 23-24

Summer 2014
Summer 2014
Powered by Pep
By Connie Jenkins
In the world of
collegiate hockey,
the Clarkson Pep
Band is an institution.
For 50 years, the band
has been a fixture at
Men’s Hockey games,
cheering on the
Golden Knights and
entertaining crowds
of fans at Cheel.
On the road, they
are as formidable
an opponent in
the stands as the
Clarkson hockey
team is on the ice.
Whether they graduated recently or
nearly 50 years ago, they know it all
by heart — the music they played,
where they sat and the winning
scores of big hockey games against
St. Lawrence, Harvard and Cornell.
They remember details of their road
trips and the back-and-forth heckling
with fans of rival teams. Their
brightest memories, however, are the
friendships they forged as members
of the Clarkson University Pep Band.
This summer, generations of
friends reconnected as part of the
band’s 50
anniversary celebration
over Alumni Weekend where they
performed once again as a band
for the alumni hockey game. At
a dinner ceremony, in honor of
the Pep Band’s 50
members of the Clarkson University
Pep Band Alumni Association
(CUPBAA) presented the very first
CUPBAA Scholarship award to
Colin Stutz ’16, a current Pep Band
For Pep Band alumnus Tony
Brancato ’88, who helped establish
the Pep Band Alumni Association in
2005, the Scholarship funded by Pep
Band alumni is particularly gratifying.
“The scholarship fund is near
and dear to me,” Brancato says.
“Money was always tight growing
up, so without aid, grants and
scholarships, I never would have
made it. Clarkson was perfect for
me. I got a top-notch education
and enjoyed a leadership role in
the band. I’m happy to give back
whenever I can.”
members started
raising money
for the annual
scholarship a
couple of years
ago. To generate
enthusiasm for the
project, Brancato
arranged to have
Sergi’s pizza rolls
sent by mail to an
early brainstorming
meeting in Rochester.
Fueled by nostalgia
and pepperoni, the
committee members
made plans for a golf
tournament, phone
solicitations and a
Todd Nielson ’86 shares
Brancato’s enthusiasm. For him,
CUPBAA provides a means for Pep
Band alumni to keep in touch as
well as to support and mingle with
current students.
“Most of the best people I met at
Clarkson, I met through the band,”
he says. “Faces and names change
over the years, but Pep Band people
are still the same fantastic, intelligent
and fun people.”
Back in the 1980s, Nielson came
to Clarkson to get a great education
and explore his academic interests.
But as he settled in at college, he found
he missed playing the drums so he
decided to try the Pep Band. He ended
up playing for the next three years.
Now living in Cortland, N.Y., Nielson
still enjoys sitting in with the band
on his visits to campus. “The young
members are always welcoming to
us. We call it the Pep Band family,”
he says.
The Pep Band’s extended
family definitely includes the hockey
team. In 1986, Nielson’s senior year,
Clarkson was hosting Harvard,
which was No. 2 at the time. He
recalls the emotions vividly, “We tied
and then won in overtime. It was
so loud inWalker Arena, you could
not hear a thing. It was joyous noise.
What a tremendous feeling. Then
the following week, we beat RPI, so
we got a ticket to the ECAC and beat
Harvard again, in their town!”
In the 1986-87 season, the
ECAC recognized the Clarkson
band with a special award for the
Best ECAC Collegiate Pep Band.
The band’s role in boosting
the hockey team and energizing
crowd support is essential to
the team itself. In fact, the band
is a very important part of his
recruitment process, says Head
Men’s Hockey Coach Casey
Jones. “Some players choose to
come to Clarkson because of the
environment with the Pep Band.
They’re a big part of who we are,”
Jones says.
Roger Dilmore ’68 was
among the founding members
of the Pep Band back in 1964,
and he recalls some lean years
1965 Pep Band at Walker Arena
“It’s like a big family; I just fell in love with it. All my friends are
in the band. It’s one of the reasons I loved being at Clarkson.”
— Ben Zwierlein ’14
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