Mar 012011
Authors: Greg Mees

With time running out at Moby Arena, everyone’s focus is on the women’s basketball game.

While the crowd applauds CSU’s growing lead against Air Force, Pep Band Director Joe Spina removes his wallet and cell phone from his coat pocket, preparing himself.

Officials blow the whistle for the final media timeout and the band begins belting Green Day’s “Holiday.”

Spina begins his dance and Moby Madness is reborn.

Over the past two basketball seasons, his gyrating, coat-whipping, high-kicking, tie-flinging, four-minute crowd rejuvenator has become wildly popular.

“Once the band plays the first note, any kind of anxious feelings just disappear because it’s on that first note of the tune it’s like the whole arena knows exactly what’s going to happen,” Spina said, who finishes his master’s degree in wind conducting and music education in May.

While he won’t be dancing at tonight’s final men’s home game, Spina will be honored by the university during a media timeout.

His dancing career started mid-season last year with just a little bit of jittering. But as people started dancing with him, he began to feed off that energy and then he just “let go.”

“At first it was like, ‘What is this guy doing?’ And then all of a sudden everyone loved it,” he said.

Spina has no dance experience –– at all –– and he said that once he is moving, he just let’s the music take him for a ride.

“Part of doing the dances is not worrying about what other people are going to think. If you are genuinely having a good time, people are going to love it,” he said.

The dance routine is never set in stone but has evolved during the season.

“We were in the middle of the tune and I thought to myself, here comes a really big hit, let’s do something different. It was instantaneous that it came to my mind,” he said. “So I took my jacket off during the four measure build and then right at the hit I popped up and started swinging my jacket around.”

From there the dance has come to include Spina removing his tie, but the biggest stretch was during the UNLV men’s game when Spina ripped open his button-up shirt to reveal a big orange “A.”

“After I saw that I just got into the game so much more,” said freshman business major Mike Giacomini.

With the CSU basketball teams struggling the past few years, Moby Madness was almost impossible to feel. The point of a pep band is to generate energy –– and Spina has sparked life into Moby again.

“I think people enjoy the band itself, but he just puts the cherry on top of it all,” said senior music education major Brittany Phelps.

Spina encourages the pep band to cherish all of the memories they are creating, but at the same time play their hearts out and have a blast.

“He’s a friend as well as a mentor and a leader,” Phelps said.

Spina began his musical life in high school, where he played the saxophone and worked his way up to drum major, leading the marching band his junior and senior years.

“It was electric coming out of those games. Our football team was really quite good and the band was playing well,” he said.

He attended West Chester University of Pennsylvania where he received his bachelor’s degree in music education while leading the band as drum major for three years.

Spina knew that he wanted even more music training, so with help from his mentor after getting his undergrad, Spina chose to move across the country to audition at CSU. The university offered him a graduate teaching assistant position and he gladly accepted.

“I fell in love with the town. I fell in love with the whole goings-on in Fort Collins and CSU, so I’ve really enjoyed being here,” he said.

As a GTA, Spina is not only directing the pep band for the second year but is also involved with the concert band, wind ensemble, marching band and some music classes.

He will walk across the stage at Moby Arena on May 13, 2011 to get his diploma. He hopes to inspire younger musicians by teaching high school band.

In the meantime, Spina will energize the crowd for the final time at Saturday’s women’s basketball game.

Chief Designer Greg Mees can be reached at

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