As Cal Poly fans enter Mott Athletics Center, they may notice the arena is quiet with the exception of balls bouncing and some mingling amongst the crowd and players. However, that all changes as game time approaches and Cal Poly’s secret weapon makes their entrance.
From a distance, noises get closer and closer. The crowd hears chants and loud footsteps approaching before they can identify a source.
Mustang Band comes bursting through the doors while simultaneously dancing and chanting, also known to them as “georging.” The band situates themselves in the bleachers where they make their presence felt for the entirety of the game no matter the outcome.
With the fun chants they scream and the pep tunes they play during the game, the band strives to be energizers for the team and crowd until the game is over. Interestingly enough, it is not their pep tunes or uniforms that make them standout from any other band in college sports. Rather, it is their georging.
Standing apart from the crowd
The routine of georging can best be described as the moment when the full band breaks from a disciplined marching style to a quasi-improvisatory dancing and interaction with the crowd, according to interim band director Christopher Woodruff.
“I don’t know where it came from and I couldn’t possibly tell you how long we’ve had it, but it is a unique tradition that, in my 25 years of doing this, I’ve not seen any other bands do,” Woodruff said.
This hallmark of the band is a good representation of what they are all about as a group: having fun while being themselves and showing school pride.
Music sophomore Kent Giese, who has leads the pep band as one of the drum majors, believes their band is unlike any other he has seen.
“We’re a unique band, we do stuff that other bands don’t do,” Giese said. “I’ve never seen georging anywhere else and that really defines Mustang Band.”
While “georging” is a long standing tradition that is one of the unique traits of Mustang Band, there are other traditions and fun things they do that set them apart from others as well.
From their own separate band Week of Welcome (WOW) to their “Run Like Hell” tradition involving a late night fight song chant outside the band director’s house, the way these traditions have been carried on speaks to the comradery of the program as a whole.
Good times on the road
While the band continues to george and perform their pep tunes at homes games, that is not the only place they show their school pride.
With the exception of the Chinese New Year Parade and other events where they are invited to play, Mustang Band supports Cal Poly athletics at the Big West Tournament every year, eager to bring as many people as they can.
“I think that, compared to other bands, we have a very large presence in terms of cheering because we usually come with the max[imum] amount of people we can,” architectural engineering senior and trombone section leader, Bryce Gagner said. “Everyone is there and providing a lot of noise and energy to it so I feel like we’re one of the most prominent bands that goes to the Big West Tournament.”
With the whole day dedicated to the tournament and fewer members allowed than usual, Giese noticed the slight change in the atmosphere.
“It’s a lot higher energy and it might not sound like that just because we have a lot fewer people as opposed to the regular amount of people that we have at games,” Giese said.“The number’s a lot less but our energy is a lot higher, which I think is pretty cool.”
People often hope for the kind of memories band members make with each other in a short amount of time. It is the unity and joy members have with one another that often prompts members to join Mustang Band.
“One of my primary reasons for doing Mustang Band was because it’s fun and it taught me to just have fun and make the most out of every single experience,” Giese said.
An inseparable bond
Many members of the band said they love the bond between band members.
“One of my favorite things about us is the camaraderie we have and all that really comes from the fact that were all kind of here for the same reason, which is to play some good music and be a big spirit function for the school,” Gagner said. “It’s just really cool to be part of a group that large where we all kind of connect really well. Even people I don’t know super well, I can still kind of just goof around with.”
After years of being part of Mustang Band, Gagner is one of many members who feels it has impacted his relationship with the university and changed his feelings of school pride.
“I think what the band has done most for me is given me a sense of school pride,” Gagner said. “I know a lot of people who come in and are like, ‘School pride is lame and I don’t want to do a lot of it,’ and I felt that way originally because of my high school, but coming here made me want to be a part of this school spirit and make it grow and get other people super involved in it.”
Standing at the helm of the band and always preaching to “play a beautiful sound,” Woodruff said he hopes these students take everything they have learned from Mustang Band, in terms of music and hard work, into their future
“They give a lot of their energy, talent and spirit to this activity and I think that it represents Cal Poly really well,” Woodruff said. “If they can take that spirit, focus, discipline and commitment of volunteerism into their lives past Cal Poly, then great.”
Through the countless hours they have spent with each other practicing good music, band, in Gagner’s words, “always wins.”
“That’s one of the coolest sentiments that we all share. No matter what we’re doing, we always feel like we’re winning and we’re doing a great job,” Gagner said. “No matter what happens in a sporting event or anything else we always come out of it together.”