Band of Wolves Howl Throughout Gentile Arena

Second-year Katie Titus said the group has become more than a collective of peers — it’s a family.

Behind the bustling chatter of students, alumni and fans of Gentile Arena, a collective clamor unifies the crowd — all packed into Section 111. 

Performing at men’s and women’s basketball games, the Band of Wolves — Loyola’s pep band fluctuates between 45-60 members depending on the year — begin rehearsing one month prior to the season opener. Often present at multiple games a week, the Band of Wolves’ practices and performances can meld into one.

“It’s easy to feel like you belong at Loyola and it’s even easier to feel like you belong in the band,” second-year Katie Titus said.

Titus, the flute section leader, said joining Band of Wolves in her first year was a way to keep playing music in college and avoid the audition process for Loyola’s wind ensemble. Titus said the band provides a more relaxed setting in comparison to ensemble groups offering class credit.

“If I play wrong notes, nobody really cares,” Titus said. 

Titus said the group has become more than a collective of peers — it’s a family. The band traveled to Brooklyn, New York for Loyola’s game at the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship March 14. Despite the Ramblers’ loss, Titus said the experience united the band members.

“We have gotten indescribably closer, and it’s such a community,” Titus said. “Once you start leaning into it, everyone is so wonderful.”

Third-year Sarai Dominguez said Band of Wolves welcomed her with “open arms” almost instantly upon joining during her second year. 

“It was like I had always belonged within the second or third week,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez, a percussionist, said she credits Band of Wolves for building her confidence and finding her voice. As an introvert, Dominguez said being involved with the band helped her become less anxious. 

For Pat Rocks, the conductor of Band of Wolves, his main goal is for students to find connection in the group. 

“I hope they feel like they can be themselves and can feel free to be a little crazy in a safe and welcoming environment,” Rocks said.

Closeness continues beyond practices and game days — the group ensures bonds are forged even when they aren’t courtside. 

At the beginning of every season, the Band of Wolves reserves a space on campus to cut, draw and glue signs for games at their sign-making parties, Titus said. Puns referring to other A-10 teams and players cover the posters. One depicts the phrase, “We respectfully disagree” in cursive. Titus said this sign was created for when the band disagrees with a referee’s call.

For Titus, the sign-making nights lend well to creating inside jokes among band members. She said even if no one else understands the signs, it still makes them laugh.

Along with sign-making, each member of Band of Wolves also learns chants to shout during the game.

Allison Kerr, the mellophone section leader, said passing on chants year-to-year serves as a rite of passage for members. When the opposing team travels, an alto saxophone cues the band in spelling out “travel” letter-by-letter.

“T-R-A-V-E-L, you traveled,” the band shouts in unison.

During preseason rehearsals, Kerr said the band runs through game day scenarios with rocks. In a game, each section is responsible for starting one of the chants, a job passed down after a member graduates. 

Citing Loyola as a “smaller” university without a football team, Kerr said finding a sense of school spirit at Loyola can be difficult. However, she said she credits the Band of Wolves for providing an outlet to engage in the traditional college sports experience.

Often rowdy, Kerr said she thinks Band of Wolves has garnered a reputation within the A-10 Conference for their rambunctious energy. The passionate cheering the group brings to the games seems to have a direct impact on the score, Kerr said.

“We were predicted to lose, but we ended up winning,” Kerr said, referencing the men’s basketball game against the University of Dayton March 1. 

The impact Band of Wolves has on game performance isn’t lost on Loyola women’s basketball head coach Allison Guth. Guth said she credits the band for changing the momentum in games and throwing off opposing teams. 

Guth said while the women’s basketball team is still working on building their fanbase, the band brings consistent support and passion to every game.

“There’s no way we get a win in the A-10 tournament if we don’t have the Band of Wolves,” Guth said.

Echoing Guth’s sentiment, Titus said the power of the band’s energy can feel like it dictates the outcome of a game.

“I live in this beautiful delusional world where we are the energy,” Titus said. “We are the vibes.”

Featured image by Aidan Cahill | The Phoenix

Brianna Guntz

Brianna Guntz