Disclaimer: Loyola Phoenix assistant sports editor Lu Calzada is a member of Band of Wolves.
The Loyola basketball season is fast approaching, but the atmosphere in Gentile Arena will be drastically different when the Ramblers hit the court without the sound of the Band of Wolves.
The Band of Wolves is Loyola’s pep band that can be found bringing the noise at home games for men’s and women’s basketball. They also play at postseason tournaments including Arch Madness and Hoops in the Heartland and at pep events such as Hustle to Hoyne for men’s soccer.
They, like many other student organizations at Loyola, have been hit hard by the lack of in-person classes and events on campus due to COVID-19 regulations and budget constraints. As a result, the Band of Wolves won’t be able to perform at home games in Gentile this season.
“Currently in Illinois, spectators are not permitted at indoor sporting events,” said Brian Day, director of marketing and ticket operations for Loyola Athletics. “We’re following all … guidelines and unfortunately the numbers aren’t necessarily trending in the right direction for that restriction to be changed any time soon.”
Because spectators are restricted from Gentile for the time being, there’s no opportunity for the Band of Wolves to perform. In response, Loyola Athletics has put the spirit programs — which include the dance team and cheerleading team — on pause, according to Day.
This doesn’t mean the programs are being eliminated, he said. It just means the Band of Wolves and the spirit teams won’t have formal practices for the season as they won’t be able to perform in Gentile. However, putting the programs on pause does affect their budgets.
“Most of their budget went to uniforms, travel, equipment, things like that that unfortunately won’t be happening this year,” Day said. “There’s really nothing that there would be a budget need for so it is pretty much just a pause for the time being.”
Along with the budget cuts came the elimination of the part-time position of band director, which was held by Pat Rocks. This decision was disappointing but expected, according to Sam Jones, a senior at Loyola and president of the Band of Wolves.
“I guess we all saw it coming, especially looking at how they’ve had to cut other positions [across the university],” Jones said. “The spirit team coaches and our director weren’t really doing a whole lot. They were helping us still stay together as organizations, but they weren’t doing what they were hired for.”
Rocks couldn’t be reached for comment.
Left without a budget or a band director, the Band of Wolves is looking for ways to maintain operations while also keeping its members active and engaged.
One possible solution is virtual events. The band is hoping to watch the basketball games so that they can still react in real-time and keep everyone together, Jones said.
Even though they’ll be cheering on the Ramblers from home, the absence of the Band of Wolves in Gentile will have an impact on gameplay, according to Day.
“Without the band or any fans at all, it’s going to be quiet and weird,” Day said. “It’s going to take some getting used to. Hopefully we won’t have to do it for too many games, but we’re going to try to do everything in the building that we can to replicate the atmosphere that the fans, spirit teams and band usually create.”
However, the true impact of the Band of Wolves on the game is something one can only really understand if they’re part of it, according to band vice president and Loyola junior Emily Blanchard.
“I do feel like the band has an effect on the game and it’s hard to explain unless you’re in the band or on the team,” Blanchard said. “We bring the energy to the whole arena and we know [the players] hear us during the game when we’re cheering them on. … I feel like the whole atmosphere of Gentile is going to be different.”