Loyola’s pep band, the Band of Wolves, has spent most of March traveling with the men’s basketball team throughout its tournament run, although no one in the band thought it would get this far.
“We’re winning and we kind of just keep winning,” third-year trumpet player Nick Graviano said.
He, along with conductor Frederick “Rick” Lowe, are proud of the band’s performance in the middle of Loyola’s unexpected rise to fame. At a pep rally today the Band of Wolves took the lead in playing tunes and getting the crowd dancing, according to Lowe.
From the band’s strong performances this tournament season, one wouldn’t be able to tell that the 29 musicians playing in the stands is the majority of the band. There are about 45 members total, according to Graviano.
“We’ve had essentially the same core group of people going to every single one of these [tournament games] and to do that five weekends in a row is incredibly straining,” said Lowe, who also teaches a couple of courses. “The other schools have more experience, frankly, and resources, and I don’t think it matters. I’m so proud of what our band is doing.”
Lowe, whose alma mater is the University of Michigan, said he is “all in” for Loyola. Although he talked with Colin Holman, the director of Loyola’s Symphony Orchestra who attended Kansas University for graduate school, about Loyola facing either Michigan or Kansas, Lowe said it was all jokingly.
“I will be just as sad as the students if we don’t make it and I will be just as proud if we win, which I think we’re going to do tonight,” Lowe said.
Sitting courtside during the regular season with the band offered Lowe the chance to not only watch the Ramblers take victory after victory, but also learn how the team plays.
“I have a great feeling about this team,” Lowe said. “I know we had some close games but there’s no reason we can’t keep winning if we play the way that we’re able to play — if we don’t make mistakes [and] if we exploit some of Michigan’s mistakes. I know we can do this.”
Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, the Band of Wolves will be returning to Chicago with the experience of a lifetime.