The JHU Pep Band plays music at University sporting events, including football, field hockey and lacrosse games. The Pep Band has also played at a variety of nonathletic events, such as Alumni Weekend and Lighting of the Quads.
In an interview with The News-Letter, President Alyssa Saunders described the organization’s purpose.
“Our mission is mostly just to foster more spirit on campus,” she said. “Our campus is kind of known for being more studious... but we really want to get more people involved in athletics and school spirit.”
Saunders believes in the importance of the student body coming together as a community.
“There’s always this dichotomy between students and sports,” she said. “Especially students that are really academically rigorous. It’s like ‘Oh I don’t have any time for this’... but it feels very high school, very nerds versus jocks... we’re all at the same place and so I feel like coming together regardless of the priorities you have in your life is really really important... I really like the sense of community I feel at the games, and I wish more people would participate in it.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, Equipment Manager Marvin Larweh echoed Saunders’ sentiments.
“Not many people even know that the Pep Band exists,” he said. “For a lot of people, especially around Hopkins, it’s very much a get work done, relax later type of deal, but I like to think of Pep Band as not just a way to provide school spirit... but also just a time to relax [and] reduce quite a bit of stress.”
Saunders stated that the Pep Band, which was founded in 1921, peaked in membership in the 1960s and 1970s with about 50 members. She expressed hopes the band will expand to a similar number of members soon and added that with additional members, the band would be able to play at more school events, including basketball games and incoming student days.
Business Manager Max Massiah has been a member of the band since his freshman year. In an interview with The News-Letter, he detailed how the organization has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The day they kicked us out, we had a lacrosse game, so it’s interesting tracking that journey,” he said. “We couldn’t play indoor games. We still don’t play indoor games... we didn’t play any games [again] until last year.”
According to Larweh, the men’s lacrosse game at Syracuse University on March 9 was the first time the Pep Band traveled a long distance for an away game since before the pandemic.
Saunders recounted her experience at the game.
“The game was so close... we were tied till the very end,” she said. “Everyone was so loud. It kind of felt like us against the world because we were in Syracuse. Everything was orange, and everyone was yelling against us, but we were trying to pump up our own team.”
Massiah stressed that aside from encouraging school spirit, the Pep Band provides an open community for its members. He also discussed his enjoyment of the Syracuse game.
“It was a lot of fun traveling all the way there,” he said. “We had a lot of fun, ate a lot of food and had a lot of laughs. It was just a good time.”
Pep Band will be performing at two more games this semester: a men’s lacrosse game against Ohio State University on April 15 and a women’s lacrosse game against Pennsylvania State University on April 22.
Jina Lim, Timothy McShea and Steven Simpson are editors at The News-Letter and members of the Pep Band. They did not contribute to the reporting, writing or editing of this article.