The members of the College of Charleston men’s basketball team won’t be the only ones in the spotlight tonight as the Cougars face Auburn University in the first round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Seventeen members of the College’s pep band, six cheerleaders, six dancers and, of course, Clyde the Cougar will also be on display before a national television audience.
Student and trombone player Aidan Leahy says, just like the players, he also has a pre-game ritual.
“I kind of dance around and jump around a bit,” says the sophomore. “I know it sounds kind of weird, but it builds up my energy and gets me excited to yell and play loud.”
Even though freshman Cymone Littlejohn has been playing the clarinet since fourth grade, she thinks she might experience some nervousness at the start of this game.
“I am a little bit nervous,” Littlejohn admits. “But once we get on the court, we will be able to push through and all of the nervousness will go away.”
Freshman Jailan Williams says he uses music to get ready to, well, play music. The trombone player likes to listen to rap or pop music to get ready to perform. He says it helps calm him down.
“I don’t really get nervous playing at a game because I have done it so much,” says Williams. “I think we will be fine, not just the band but the team, the dance team – everybody.”
Just like the basketball team, the pep band got to do a walkthrough of the Viejas Arena on Thursday. As Coach Earl Grant was taking to his team onto the court, Pep Band Director David Haywood was prepping his band in the stands, going over the song selection and offering words of encouragement.
The band has 54 songs on its playlist. Some songs are designated for pre-game and some for during the game. By the end of the game, they’ll have played only a small number of songs from the playlist. But that’s OK. It’s all part of the game plan.
After 40 minutes of getting a feel for the arena, the players headed back to the locker room while the band members headed for the exits, instruments in hand.
It’s the final countdown, and both groups are getting ready for their moment in the spotlight.
Members of the CofC Pep Band performing in San Diego:
Trey Anderson, Nicholas Dixon, Claire Falleson, Kyle Glick, Thomas Harrison, Jack Held, Amearia Houston, Aidan Leahy, Theresa Blair, Linehan, Cymone Littlejohn, Javier Polo Jr., Joseph Valazquez, Aleksei Wilhelm, Jailan Williams, Jeffery Williams Jr. and Samantha Word.
Members of the Dance/Cheer Squad performing in San Diego:
Amber Meteraud, Catherine Zurawsky, Katelynn Gunter, Laura Kuroki, Emily Goodwin, Lane Dizon, LeAnn Boddie, Samantha Pairet, Morgan Roberts, Kileigh Joseph, Courtney Lamb, Allison Craig, Kathryn Templeton and Morgan Long.
All photos by Mike Ledford