North Texas Daily

Pep Band brings relentless spirit to games

Pep Band brings relentless spirit to games

Pep Band brings relentless spirit to games
December 03
23:09 2014

Scott Sidway / Staff Writer

North Texas boasts a reputable music program that produces some of the most successful professional musicians in the world. But there is one musical ensemble on campus that is known for more than just its musical prowess.

The Mean Green basketball band, which calls itself the “Grammy Nominated Funky Fresh Basketball Band,” is a 39-piece group that has gained a reputation at basketball games by boisterously supporting the home team and heckling the opposition with witty one-liners and creative chants. In addition, a few members of the band also perform at volleyball games.

Music education senior Rudy Noriega, who directs both the basketball and volleyball bands, said he remembers one moment when the band’s heckling got under an opposing volleyball player’s skin.

“We really got in this one girl’s head, and she was not so happy with us and flipped the bird at us,” Noriega said. “It made us go at her even more for the rest of the game.”

Because of the low attendance at the Super Pit and small size of the Mean Green Volleyball Complex, the band can be clearly heard both musically and vocally. The group has come up with a series of one-liners, including chanting “that was bad” three times in rhythmic unison every time a visiting basketball player misses a free throw and “fun-da-men-tals” when the opposition commits a turnover.

These and other chants have successfully drawn the attention of opposing players and coaches at the Super Pit. Music education senior Tony Gonzalez is in his fourth season playing saxophone with the band and said the group routinely succeeds at provoking visiting teams.

“We get glares from other players and coaches all the time,” Gonzalez said. “When we see a player glare at us or roll their eyes, we know we’ve gotten a reaction and have done our job.”

While opposing players are sometimes rubbed the wrong way by the relentless banter, Noriega said vocal participation is part of the gig.

“Usually I’m trying to encourage it,” Noriega said. “If they go too far, sometimes I have to be like, ‘Hey, watch what you’re saying’ because we have certain rules.”

Some of the rules that are enforced on the band include staying away from ill-reputed “s” words, the word “hate” and anything that begins with “you are.” Director of Athletic Bands Nicholas Williams said he stresses the balance of participation and sportsmanship as early as the audition process.

“The whole concept of sportsmanship is important,” Williams said. “I don’t want them to feel like they have free reign to just be rude. That’s not really the point.”

Williams said the band does not typically have any problems with crossing the line, but he has disciplined members in the past and even kicked a member out of the band for taking heckling too far. Since taking over 12 years ago, Williams’ group has only been reprimanded a handful of times: once by a visiting player’s mother and a couple of times by referees.

“It’s part of the activity,” Williams said. “Clearly we don’t want a reputation of being inconsiderate or rude or inappropriate. But there is in my opinion a part of the game day atmosphere that when you go on the road, it’s not supposed to be the friendliest place ever.”

In addition to the heckling, Williams said his goal for the band has always been to enhance the environment at Mean Green games.

“In the beginning, we talked about changing the culture and the atmosphere at games, which believe it or not were quieter and less attended than what it is now,” Williams said. “We never talked about volume or anything like that. It was more about just interacting with what’s going on, participating with cheerleaders and being part of the event.”

Some members of the band believe their spirit can have an impact on the outcome of the game. In a back-and-forth game against then first-place University of Denver in 2012 that the Mean Green won with an overtime buzzer beater, Gonzalez said he remembers the band rallying behind the players.

“There have been times when our team isn’t playing well, and I feel that the players have seen our spirit and have come back to win the game,” Gonzalez said. “There are times when the team is completely outmatched, but we are always going to bring energy.”

Men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford said his squad feeds off the band’s energy.

“They’re full of energy, and they get our guys pumped up,” Benford said. “They do a great job getting onto opposing teams.”

Senior men’s basketball guard Jordan Williams said the UNT Pep Band is one of the best he has ever seen.

“I don’t think anybody compares to our band, because they’re at it throughout the whole game,” Jordan Williams said. “Even before the game when we’re in warm-ups, I hear them the whole time. I think they’re the best band.”

Whether it is volleyball, basketball or even football games where the chants are not as audible, Noriega said the band’s job remains the same at every venue.

“To be the super fans and trying to get in the players’ heads to help our teams,” Noriega said.

Featured Image: The pep band cheers on the Mean Green men’s basketball team against Delaware State University on Nov. 19. The team won 62-55. Photo by Byron Thompson – Staff Photographer

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