If you have ever been to a men’s or women’s basketball game at the Ramsey Center, you probably noticed and felt the vibrant home field atmosphere.
Contributing to the home court atmosphere are loud fans, cheerleaders, flashy lighting, the dance team, Paws himself, and the small but rowdy band.
Every game, between sections D and C, the pep band of the WCU marching band, marks their territory.
The band arrives early to home games, practicing and providing entertainment as both teams warm up and shoot around.
The Ramsey Center is certainly a tough place for opposing teams to win at. In the past four sea- sons, the men’s team is 41- 14 in Cullowhee.
In an article in The Ashville Citizen Times, Tyler Norris Goode quoted Wofford head coach Mike Young who said, “I would rather go to hell than go to —- Cullowhee.”
A student who wishes to remain anonymous said, “The band gives the opposing team and the ref’s h—. Whenever I go to the games I try to sit near the band so I can hear what they say. They are a riot.”
Senior John Arney agrees, “I feel the band adds a lot of atmosphere for the games.
“They play during breaks but they also bring noise with them. At any sporting event, noise is the key. The Purple Thunder is my favorite part of the pep band,” said Arney.
Along with providing music, the pep band leads the crowd in chanting, cheering, and taunting the opposing teams.
They remain standing throughout the game and can often be heard shouting unfiltered comments towards the referees or opposing players.
The atmosphere provided by the pep band does not go unnoticed by men’s head coach Larry Hunter.
Hunter said, “I think it’s [the band] an important part of the game.
“It’s like the cheer- leaders and dance team. They help create a home field advantage. Having them in striped shirts and masks and how much they get into the games adds entertainment to the atmosphere. They add excitement and I am very appreciative of what they do at our home games,” said Hunter.
The players feel the hype that the band brings to home games as well.
“I love the band,” said senior guard Trey Sumler. “They always seem to give the other team a lot of hell. Most importantly they give the referees the worst experience. It keeps them on their toes.”
Senior Colin Cunning- ham who is majoring in Psychology and minoring
in Religion has cherished his memories playing with the pep band.
Cunningham said, “I really enjoy playing at basketball games,.
“It’s a different vibe that’s felt through the band when we can be so close to the student section instead of so far away from it, like at football games. We can feed off of their hype,” said Cunningham.
Cunningham’s favorite memories while playing
at the games was being present for the buzzer beater against Appala– chian State University in 2011 and witnessing what Cunningham described as “the worst free throw ever” by ASU’s Brian Okam.
Director of the athletics band David Starnes is in his third year directing the pep band at home basketball games.
Starnes stated the band’s goal is to create a fun, exciting, peppy environment that gets everyone in the building involved.
Starnes said the fondest memory of the game was in 2011 when WCU took Davidson College to double overtime in the So- Con championship game. “That was night. We were a huge part of that game,” said Starnes.
The pep band is in Ashville to play alongside the Catamounts at the SoCon tournament.