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Pride of Chapman Pep Band boosts school spirit

2013-10-18 15:21:57
Dressed in Chapman-red polo shirts, jeans and red Converse
sneakers, the Chapman University pep band is lined up in a row
perpendicular to the 50-yard line.
The band's director, Jacob Vogel, shouts: Are you ready? The band
replies: We're always ready! Again, but louder: Are you ready?
Band: We're always ready! Once more, but at the top of his lungs:
Are you ready? Band, even louder: We're always ready!
It's the band's halftime ritual.
At Vogel's signal, the Pride of Chapman pep band then runs out to the
middle of the field for its 10-minute performance.
The band's purpose is to help fill seats, engage the crowd at games and events, and help the team win.
Only in existence since 2007, the pep band is making its mark under the direction of Vogel, a 2009
Chapman graduate, who started the band.
When the band came aboard, it gave us a shot in the arm, said David Currey, Chapman's athletic director
of 24 years. They bring an electricity and liveliness to the games that weren't there before, he said. The
fans love it.
The band and their director are playful and high-energy. Their repertoire is mostly Top 40, with music from
bands such as Neon Trees and Owl City. It's mixed in with some older pop hits from bands such as
Journey, the Eagles and Cold Play.
Some of the songs they've played are CeeLo Green's Forget You, Katy Perry's Firework and Justin
Timberlake's Suit & Tie.
During the game, the band plays in the stadium above the student body. It's a spot they've earned. And as
the band's performance improved, they moved closer to the 50-yard line.
The pep band has created new traditions at Chapman. For example, when the team scores a first down,
the band plays the theme from the 1960s Batman TV show, something like nana-nana-nana-nana Chap
One of the band members suggested it, so they tried it and it stuck, Vogel said.
Vogel, who is also the assistant director for USC's large and prominent Trojan Marching Band, is using
USC's band as a model. They're part of the overall zeitgeist of their football games, Vogel said.
I've been able to learn their traditions and help students here learn their own traditions, Vogel said.
Chapman's pep band plays new songs for each game or event. That's really the struggle, memorizing that
much music so quickly, Vogel said.
The band began as a one-off in 2006, when Vogel was asked to put together a band for homecoming. It
was a big hit, he said. People went nuts.
In the fall of 2007, the band got its official start when it received money to buy uniforms.
Chapman's 28-person pep band is small compared to those at schools of Chapman's size. It's a relatively
young band and word is still getting out, Vogel said.
He'd like to see 50 members in five years and twice as many in 10 years. He'd like to recruit 1,000 if he
could. The goal is always bigger, stronger, louder.
About half the band members are music majors. All but 10 of the band members are new because many
graduated last year, Vogel said.
Similar to a jazz ensemble, the pep band's students play trumpet, trombone, saxophone, French horn,
clarinet and flute.
There are 10 drummers this year. For the size of the band, that's a lot, he said. He makes the most of
them. I have the people; let's get them out there and make some noise.
Chapman percussion performance major Jordan Curcuruto coaches the drum line. We power the band,
she said.
Curcuruto played snare drum for her first two years at Chapman and has been coaching in her junior and
senior years. She coaches instead of plays because she also has a job. She is a drummer in Disneyland's
Christmas parade. Her rehearsals at Disney have just begun.
The time commitment to the pep band is Saturday football game performances that last about six hours
and two practices a week that start at 7 a.m.
They dread getting up in the morning, but once they're there and they're having a good time, then they're
energized and ready to go for the rest of the day, Vogel said. We had rehearsal today. I'm still fired up.
The band will play five home games this year, which are attended by about 3,000 people. They also play at
many basketball games.
I really think this band brings a serious home-field advantage, Vogel said. The student body slowly but
surely is buying into the band, Vogel said.
It does have buy-in from the athletes and the athletic director.
At the end of a winning game, the players will come over to the band and start dancing and give the band
high-fives, Vogel said.
I don't want to have football at Chapman without the band, Currey said. I think the band at Chapman has
been one of the most positive additions to our sports program than anything we've ever done.
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