Bringing the “pep” to Pep Band – Feature

Barbara Bell, Sports Editor


The Bison Band, the University’s volunteer-based pep band, has garnered attention as one of the most authentic sounds on campus, in the community, and on regional and national airwaves. Its wide-encompassing musicians, led by Faculty Adviser Phil Haynes, bring an unparalleled enthusiasm and school pride to campus and beyond. 


The band is an ensemble of students, staff, faculty, and pep band alumni. The group performs at home sporting events for all three sports seasons including games for football, women’s and men’s basketball, invitations to play for soccer and lacrosse, and/or playoffs and championships. The band as a whole has also been granted travel for NCAA playoff berths for both basketball teams.


Over 10 senior members round out the group, many of whom, like Aaron Wilson ’15, recall the perks of supporting the University’s finest in athletics on a grander stage.



“My experiences cannot be matched by any other performance ensemble on campus. Between playing on national TV and performing in front of 25,000+ people at Rupp Arena for the NCAA tournament, I have so many great memories from being in the group,” Wilson said.


Such a force on campus was not established easily. Affiliation and prestige at the University didn’t come full circle for the band until 2005, when the Bison men’s basketball team upset Kansas during the NCAA March Madness tournament. Haynes then agreed to take on the role of adviser.



“Once I realized that these fabulous kids were volunteers, avid Bucknellians, plus actually loved this sporting tradition and repertoire, I agreed to become their faculty director,” Haynes said. Haynes himself is musically inclined as a jazz drummer.


The band has provided these musicians with the opportunity to continue their passions outside of a formal musical environment. CJ Moy ’15 values his involvement with the pep band, telling “The Daily Item,” “I knew before coming here that I wanted to continue playing trumpet, but as a non-music major I did not want to commit to a formal ensemble.”


“It was an easy sell when I found out the pep band would be supplied free pizza, access to every football and basketball game, and would travel with the teams to any national tournament. Along the way, I also developed good friendships and met some incredibly talented musicians,” Moy said. 


“I’ve been playing in pep bands since high school so this was just a natural transition for me. I care way more about the music. I want to convince more people to join because the more that do, the better we sound, and the bigger pull we have on campus,” Alan Braxton ’15 said.

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