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Rockin’ by the hardwood

Horns blare, tubas blast, there’s even a full drum set that can be found many nights. As unique as they are loud and
unapologetic, the UTRGV Pep Band brings entertainment that helps promote an authentic college sports experience in the RGV. From the “Star-Spangled Banner” to “Hotline Bling” why use speakers when the in-house band has music in the Fieldhouse covered? During conference volleyball and the entire basketball season, count on the band to be there to rock the venue.

Many universities have large marching bands that will support intercollegiate athletic teams with their play. The Pep
Band operates under the exact same concept. Albeit smaller than a marching band, the effect is still felt.

The drums roll when the Vaqueros hit a free throw. The sad trombone plays when the opponents embarrass themselves.
There’s even someone on roster duty to taunt the entire visiting bench the whole game. Now the band even dresses the
part, with the entire congregation decked out in gray UTRGV basketball jerseys.

Saul Torres, director of the Pep Band and a UTRGV music professor, embodies the spirit wholeheartedly. Since the UTRGV merger, Torres had a custom-made basketball jersey, the same as the team with the name “Doc Torres” on the back. The number on the jersey is 06,which he says symbolizes the sixth man they hope to be.

“I know that us present here just adds that extra fire to the whole experience,” Torres said.

When the band is not in attendance,the band director since Fall 2012 hears complaints from the crowd the next time
they see him.

“We try to get ideas from wherever we can, trying to bring a different feel. We didn’t have the kind of spirit we have right now,” Torres said. “I want to be a part of developing, especially with the new university, an environment where
we’re proud.”

Pride runs deep with the leader of the drums. Randy Ochoa has spent three years in Pep Band. His ideas regarding the goal of the band centered on enhancing the experience of Vaquero fans at games.

“[We hope to bring] just a fun experience,have people enjoy the game more,” Ochoa said. “They can actually interact, feel like they’re helping the team by cheering them on.”

Fans sitting in any part of the Fieldhouse can hear the band loud and clear, playing a mix of typical arena pep tunes as well as modern hits. The modern hits range from Drake’s hottest single to some throwback tunes like Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

The drummer, who said his favorite song to play is Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” knows that playing pop songs helps the
crowd get involved.

“For this, it’s really effective because everyone knows the music and they can sing along,” said Ochoa, a 20-year-
old music education major. “The basketball players know it too, so they can get into the music also.”

The music program at UTRGV has three bands that perform independent of each other. The wind ensemble,symphonic band and the pep band.

Requirements for the band are not particularly strict. A basic knowledge of reading and playing is necessary. A
majority of students join after being a part of their band in high school.There’s a mix of music and non-music majors, the latter undergo auditions to prove their skill level.

The band is almost 60 members strong. Growth is more common than shrinking, with numbers increasing annually.

“I’m thankful that the organization that funds us supplied us with instruments. I got all these instruments and we already outgrew that,” Torres added, “We make it work. The more the merrier.”

The Pep Band can be found whenever the home team is on Sam Williams Court at the Fieldhouse. The band can even be found in Las Vegas when the Vaqueros participate in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

While the Vaqueros can’t take the entire home crowd with them to that tournament, it’s a nice bonus to have a bit of home follow you.

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