The Huskies’ Soundtrack

Huge crowd or no crowd, rain or shine, the Pep Band has always been there to show, and play, their support for our athletes. Here’s an inside look at some of Northeastern sports’ most consistent and spirited fans.

By Josh Chaskes

You may not recognize them, you may not see them, but you will definitely hear them whenever you’re at a Northeastern volleyball, basketball, or hockey game.

They are the Northeastern Pep Band, and with the power of dozens of instrument-bearing college students belting out arrangements of songs from “Stacy’s Mom” to the theme from The Avengers, they show up and rally the fans at Northeastern athletic events throughout the year.

When the fan turnout is low, the Pep Band’s job becomes all the more essential.

“Very frequently we are the only people at games,” said Pep Band president and senior flute player Gracie Rosenbaum. “So having 50 to 100 [band members] there absolutely losing it because of these people that are playing at the highest caliber is so worth it because they need to know that even though the school might not be physically able to be there, we still love them, we still support them, and we still want them to succeed.”

The band follows Northeastern teams all over the map, whether it’s an away game at BU, or, this year, the women’s hockey Frozen Four tournament in Philadelphia. No matter the venue, they’re consistently one of the loudest and most spirited sections at the game, whether they’re actually playing their instruments or just cheering. For one band member, her time in the group has helped her find her voice.

“The band was a little intimidating when I first got there,” said senior Webmaster and flute player JoJo Brennan, who’s in charge of taking photos and creating and posting content for Pep Band social media accounts. “You’re sight-reading the music in front of you, which for some people comes really easily but for me, it never did.”

But after years of belting out the Pep Band’s familiar catalogue, Brennan could devote more energy to having fun during the games.

“I can kind of not think about that part now, and I think I grew into my role as one of the loudest people in the band,” she said. “There were so many weekends this year where I went to a hockey game and the next day I did not have a voice.”

Band Librarian and sixth year mellophone player Aleksandra Burger-Roy also has a certain familiarity with the Pep Band’s music book. One of the main reasons for that? She’s written part of it. In addition to playing the songs that the band already has in their repertoire, Burger-Roy takes time outside of rehearsals to find new songs and write sheet music that will work with the instruments that make up the band.

“I have around 10 songs in the book currently,” she said, “and even though I’m graduating, I have a couple of arrangements that I finished that I’m going to give to [faculty band director] Allison [Betsold] to put in the book next fall.”

Managing and keeping track of the hundreds of physical copies of that book, which contains all the sheet music for every song the band plays, is one of Burger-Roy’s main responsibilities as one of two Librarians for the Pep Band, and it’s no small task. 

“When I became librarian there were around 140 [copies], and we would give them out to people to play at games and throughout the semester,” said Burger-Roy. “During my tenure as Librarian I decided to say, ‘Let’s not be sharing materials,’ especially during a pandemic, and ended up adding 100 new books to our inventory.”

 That’s way too many books for one person to update and distribute by hand, but luckily the Librarians aren’t alone. Students who have been Pep Band members for at least one semester have the option to pledge to the Band’s co-ed service fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. Brothers of the fraternity go above and beyond normal member responsibility to help with day-to-day tasks and ensure the band is running smoothly.

“We’ll be working behind the scenes to help get the equipment ready for the band, helping alphabetize all these books and things like that, and just generally to keep a nice lively atmosphere in the band,” said Burger-Roy, who is a brother of Kappa Kappa Psi.

That lively atmosphere is contagious, as the band has become a favorite among attendees of Northeastern sporting events. The interactions between the Dog House and the Pep Band have led to trends and inside jokes, including the now-famous playing of Northeastern’s fan favorite fight song, “Stacy’s Mom.”

“It started in 2013 or 2014, somewhere around then,” said Burger-Roy. “There’s this one weird alum… who just always wanted the band to play Stacy’s Mom… and then it became a thing and the Dog House would always ask for it.”

But what cemented “Stacy’s Mom” as Northeastern’s rallying cry?

“In 2016, when the men won Hockey East for the first time [since 1988], and the entire arena erupted in Stacy’s Mom, it became like the unofficial-official fight song,” she said. “Then in 2019, athletics started sponsoring it and giving [us] an entire media timeout for us to play it.”

It’s not just students that appreciate the Pep Band’s presence. The athletes themselves notice the band’s dedication to Northeastern’s teams. Athletes such as women’s hockey grad student goalie Aerin Frankel and senior forward Alina Mueller have interacted with the Pep Band Twitter account. At one point, Brennan and Rosenbaum would bring a sign to women’s hockey games that said “Hey Mickey!” in honor of senior forward Miceala Sindoris, and Sindoris’ mother posted a picture of it online, tagging the Pep Band in the post.

“I think the appreciation for the band being able to be back in our arenas and be back in person was felt this year,” said Brennan. “It was so nice to feel it reverberating throughout the athletics community… People’s parents were coming up to us and being like, ‘We’re so glad the band is back.’”

And they’re back in numbers. The band is on a steep upward trajectory in terms of members, going from 130 or 140 members four years ago to 175 now, even with the hit its population took during the pandemic. According to Rosenbaum, the goal for next year is 200.

“We had so many people email and text and message people in band like… ‘Hey, can I join even though it’s November?’ ‘Can I join even though it’s March and there’s two games left?’” she said. “And we are hopeful that all of them can join this upcoming fall.”

New members will help the band have an even larger presence at each game, making them more prepared to handle any sudden change, such as this past winter, when the Matthew’s Arena sound system stopped working during a women’s hockey game. Luckily, the band stepped up to make up for the lack of music and PA announcements.

“We got to play all throughout warmups as the band, which we usually don’t get to do. Usually the team has their playlist that they listen to,” Brennan said. “We were yelling the things that the announcers usually yell, like we yelled ‘Here come the Huskies’ every time they came on the ice.”

The band didn’t just have double duty for that one game, though. That day happened to be a doubleheader, with the men’s team playing later. The members only had a short break before returning, but they didn’t mind.

“To go back that night and do it all over again was pretty tiring,” Brennan said, “but it was really rewarding and really fun.”

As those new members populate Matthews and Cabot next year, the music and the cheering voices will only grow louder. So the next time you’re at a Northeastern sports game and there’s a crucial goal or point, a media timeout, or part of the stadium just stops working, be sure to keep an ear out. The band may still be playing.