Week of Welcome (WOW) begins once again with a Mustang tradition: an influx of Cal Poly freshman who get to explore the campus and community as older students drive by and shout “WOWies” at them.
However, WOW is different for freshmen coming to Cal Poly as Mustang band members. For one, their WOW groups consist of new band members, and with current band members as the WOW leaders.
“It’s really changed throughout the years,” David Hodson, the 2011-12 Mustang Band CEO, said. “When I was a freshman, the only difference was the last Friday instead of WOW activities it was the start of band camp.”
This year, students will be in band camp pretty much all of WOW, according to current WOW leader and graduate student Maggie Maratsos. Band WOW leaders do get the same training as other WOW leaders, but with specific band WOW groups, Maratsos said.
There are four band WOW groups currently with about 15 students in each group, she said. Each group has three co-leaders as well.
Band WOW leaders get their WOWies four days earlier for new member band camp, she said. The rest of the band comes later that week. In recent years, according to Hodson, the first halftime shows the band performs at are within the second and third week of school. Any time the new members have to learn before school starts helps, he said.
“Over the past few years, as WOW has pushed back its starting date, WOWies spend less time with their WOW group,” Maratsos said. “There won’t be much time for group bonding.”
However, Hodson, who is a part of the drumline, said band WOWies aren’t really cheated out of anything. He said the WOWies still go to all of the awareness presentations and do activities like kayaking in Morro Bay. If anything, the band WOWies get a little bonus, he said. Band WOW groups are larger, so the freshmen get to meet more people.
“Normally WOW groups try to schedule reunions a couple times the first year but not much after that,” Hodson said. “With the band, you’re with them throughout that whole year and the years afterwards.”
There’s a main difference between band WOW and WOW, Hodson said. Instead of spending time with groups and leaders, WOWies are spending time learning music and drills with the rest of the band, he said.
Another difference Hodson mentioned is the hours WOWies spend in band camp. WOW has done a lot to try and control the party lifestyle some associate with coming to college, he said. Friday and Saturday nights, WOW leaders are supposed to stay with their groups until 1 or 2 a.m., he said. Band WOW groups will sometimes go to a leader’s house and nap because band camp starts at 7 a.m., Hodson said.
“After 12 hours of band camp I don’t know anyone who has the energy to go out and do anything not WOW appropriate,” Hodson said.
Maratsos, who’s been playing the flute in the band since she was a freshman, said this year’s WOWies won’t get much time with their group because the first football game is soon. She said the band has to be ready.
“The first game is against UC Davis and they are bringing their band,” Maratsos said. “And we have a rivalry with them.”
Graphic communication sophomore and trombone player Mikkel Sandberg said his WOW group still did a lot of the same activities the other WOW groups did.
“From what I remember, we did more of the WOW things earlier in the week, before everyone was really there,” Sandberg said. “Later in the week we had our special band camp thing.”
Sandberg has participated in band and played instruments since he was in sixth grade. He said his high school was really small so their band was too, and he wanted to see what it was like to be in a huge band at a university.
According to Sandberg, his experience with Cal Poly’s Marching Band has been amazing. He said the people are really fun with lots of energy.
“They’re very skilled, which makes rehearsals and performances more rewarding and fun,” Sandberg said.
Maratsos said she hopes this year will be a great one for new students, even with the changes in the schedules.
“I think, as band WOW leaders, we’re enthusiastic enough,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”