This One Time

Mar 032002

It’s Saturday and I’m standing in line at Moby Arena. Not to get into the basketball game or purchase a $3.50 hot dog.

Rather, I’m standing in line to meet and greet Travis Coulter, the charismatic conductor of the CSU pep band.

Apparently this phenomenon of having to wait to meet the leader of the band isn’t all that uncommon.

Guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, seeing as the man has become a semi-celebrity in the Moby community, and the band he leads accounts for roughly 99.9 percent of the energy and enthusiasm in Moby Arena.

In case you haven’t noticed – and judging by the attendance, you haven’t – the band is the third team that calls Moby home.

Their uniforms are polo shirts and khaki pants, and their offensive arsenal includes bugles, french horns and flutes.

On game day, just like the basketball teams, they go to work. They get the party started with the fight song and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” They put the baby to sleep with “America the Beautiful” as fans file out.

They start more chants than the cheerleaders, they scream louder than paying fans, they play their instruments better than… well, okay, they’re the only ones with instruments.

In a nutshell, if the average fan in Moby were a low-watt bulb, the pep band would be Las Vegas.

At halftime of the women’s game Saturday afternoon, Coulter was awarded with the Student Spirit award by the CSU Spirit Committee. Sound like an unlikely accolade?

Every game during the final media time-out, the band busts into “2001: A Space Odyssey.” This is Coulter’s time to shine, standing on courtside tables and pumping his fist as the band holds the last note (they call it “Z”), blowing their horns, trombones and tubas with all their might.

This one note sends the Moby throng into a frenzy, making most in the small arena jump higher and scream louder than at any time in the actual game.

The band serves as an on/off switch for the volume of the crowd. Whenever the atmosphere is down, which has been early and often this season, enter the sousaphone-laden saviors.

“We’re not nerds,” Coulter says, as I do my best to believe him. “We’re actually cool kids.”

It seems no matter how many times the Rams might come up short on the basketball floor or how many times the band might be pestered with “American Pie” band camp quotes (which, they say, get old “really fast”), the band is steadfast in its efforts to rally and support CSU athletic teams.

The simple irony here is, at first glance, bands and athletes are on the opposite end of the “cool” spectrum. Though jocks and band members are relegated by schedules to show up at the same events, there aren’t exactly a lot of prom pairings between the two groups.

And yet, in this, one of the harder seasons for men’s basketball in recent memory, band members have been the most consistent and noticeable supporters. Girlfriends and moms aside, they’re really the only ones who can honestly say they never left the men’s hoops bandwagon.

The band has surpassed Dawson’s Creek, Lil’ Debbie snack cakes and the ballads of Richard Marx as my favorite guilty pleasure.

And that’s something worth standing in line for.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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