Dear Dr. Anderson,
First off, congratulations on being named Director of the University of Massachusetts Marching Band. The Power and Class is a significant point of pride for the university and holds a special place in the heart of all alumni and friends of the university. I welcome you to the UMass community and wish you luck in your endeavor to continue the tradition of excellence that has signified the UMass Marching Band during its existence.
However, I would also like to bring your attention to a gap in the marching band’s mission over its history. The band’s representation at football games is legendary and it’s fitting that the school’s lone national championship in the sport, occurring in 1998, was accompanied by a Sudler Trophy for the marching band. As well, the band’s presence for basketball games is equally cherished going back to the “Rage In The Cage” days when the team was making a name for themselves in Curry Hicks. But, there is one more sport would also greatly benefit from music provided from a pep band that currently does not. Hockey.
On all the prominent college hockey campuses across the country the sport is accompanied by a band. In my hockey travels I’ve had the privilege of hearing great hockey bands play famous tunes, from “The Stein Song” in Orono, Maine to “When You’ve Said Wisconsin…” in Madison, Wisconsin and can attest to how much they enhance the experience, in even the most hallowed of hockey barns. A particularly memorable hockey band moment was seeing a ragtag group of RPI graduates assemble with instruments in Tampa, Florida to support their alma mater in the most tropical of hockey locales.
Currently eight of the ten Hockey East schools have a hockey pep band and a ninth, the small, private Merrimack College, has fielded a student-led hockey band at different times in their existence. Most of these schools have pep bands that exist to support multiple sports. A handful of them, like Boston College, New Hampshire, and Maine, are able to field bands supporting football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s hockey, and even women’s hockey. However despite having the largest student body in Hockey East, the largest number of band members, and by far the greatest level of prestige for its marching ban,d UMass has only been able to support football and men’s and women’s basketball, leaving hockey lacking in its overall college hockey experience.
There was a time in the history of UMass hockey when a pep band may have in fact outnumbered those in attendance. Thankfully, those days are over. Two years ago the hockey program was ranked 10th in the country for attendance. UMass hockey now competes regularly with men’s basketball as the second most attended sport on a per game basis on campus and is tops when it comes to student attendance. Those students bring a lot of energy and passion to their seats on the west side of the Mullins Center, but overall their efforts are usually disjointed and underwhelming. There is no band there to join in with, celebrate alongside, or keep their attention during the breaks in action. Instead a key play is generally met with unorganized cheering and stoppages of play are filled with canned music consisting of grating techno or even worse, country. The atmosphere of UMass hockey has come a long way from its beginnings but there are still some strides left to take to be considered one of the best atmospheres in the conference or even the country. A band would do wonders to closing that gap. A band could become the rallying point of celebration and tradition at the games, leading the entire crowd in cheering on the Minutemen to victory.
Previously there were different opinions regarding the value of a pep band for the hockey program. Despite the advocacy of numerous hockey supporters we have been unable to secure a spot for the band to become a part of the UMass hockey experience. With your arrival on campus myself and others are hoping this will be an opportunity for the band and hockey programs to enter a mutually beneficial relationship. As the Power and Class begins a new era I would hope you seriously consider how a band for the hockey team would greatly benefit the participating student athletes, students, alumni, and fans and more deeply fulfill the band program’s mission to support the University of Massachusetts campus. UMass hockey fans have longed to hear the chords of “Fight Mass” ring out following a goal and the notes of “Twilight Shadows” as the players raise their sticks to the rafters following a win. We sincerely hope you can help us to experience such a moment.
Mark Coogan ‘98 ‘06MBA
Random things found on YouTube. UMass commit 6’7” Oleg Yevenko versus former UMass commit (and now property of RPI) 6’6” Luke Curadi. Yevenko in the dark jersey. Looks like it was a decent fight.
Mike Marcou is attending the New York Islanders Development Camp for the second straight summer. No doubt the Long Island native is happy for the chance to train with his hometown team.
Overall I have to say that the coverage of the NHL prospect camps, both in terms of independent media and team based, decidedly sucks.
Someday a UMass hockey alum will have the chance to lift the Stanley Cup. Not quite the same, but this is pretty damn cool. Congrats to Ryan Nadeau. You have to at least respect the playoff beard.
Former UMass assistant Mark Dennehy has done an outstanding job at Merrimack so it’s of no surprise that he was a hot commodity in the coaching market this offseason. Therefore, Merrimack’s signing of him through 2019 is a clear signal that they’re serious about hockey.
Meanwhile, Northeastern does realize they’ll need a coach by the beginning of the regular season, right?
A college hockey “Super Conference”? First of all, college hockey already has a Super Conference. It’s called Hockey East. Secondly, the Big Ten Hockey Conference was inevitable. The conference itself goes back to near the beginning of college sports. Once they had the needed number of schools fielding hockey they were always going to bond together to go forth under the Big Ten banner. When it comes to conference history there’s the Ivy, Big Ten, and everyone else. While I had no problem with the status quo (save for Huntsville not having a place at the table), I still think the BTHC could potentially lead to an expanded college hockey footprint as schools like Illinois, Indiana, or others look to field teams. But sadly this “Super Conference” will only hurt college hockey in general by separating the remaining western teams into haves and have-nots. The current makeup of the WCHA and CCHA, led by teams like North Dakota, Duluth, Colorado College, Denver on one side and Notre Dame, Miami, and Western Michigan on the other can survive as is. If those teams leave, the remaining programs will likely not all be able to make it work. College hockey needs more schools, not less. I hope these schools exploring this option consider this fact.