DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The University of Dayton Flyer Pep Band is back on campus this week after a whirlwind spring break.
The Flyer Pep Band had their own run this March. Even though it wasn’t representing UD, the band still got to play in the NCAA tournament.
“If you looked at it, like the amount of press the Flyer Pep Band got as a whole,” says junior Richard Bousfield, who plays the trombone. “It’s sort of blown up.”
Following UD’s loss against VCU in the A-10 Tournament, the band did not expect the newfound fame and the opportunities that were to come.
“After you lose the game you expect you’re done. It was a little bit of a let down because we were expecting to go to the NIT at the very least,” says senior Amber Barga, who plays the piccolo.
After the Flyers were out, the Pep Band was still in, appearing on an even bigger stage.
“It was just the energy and the environment of being in an NCAA tournament,” says sophomore Nylah Clements, who plays the saxophone.
Twenty-nine members of the more than 100 member band brought that energy when they were asked to play for Fairleigh Dickinson University during their team’s NCAA run.
“They’re a small school. They don’t have a music program,” says Dr. Willie Morris, professor of music and the Director for Flyer Pep Band.
The Flyer Pep Band stepped up to cheer on the FDU Knights.
“Regardless of who we’re cheering for, they support who they’re playing for. It’s just phenomenal, phenomenal experience. And particularly to be there when they beat Purdue,” exclaims Dr. Morris.
Even before all of the bracket busting started, they were already thrust into the national spotlight, making a cameo on NBC’S Today Show.
“Doing the Today Show was amazing just seeing the broadcasters that we see on TV, and being right there, and then seeing us on national TV, and then playing in Times Square was crazy. Because a huge crowd just kind of came around us and were hyping us up. They were dancing along. They wanted pictures with us,” describes senior Amanda Bursch who plays the drums.
Freshman photography major Maggie Endres traveled with the team to capture all of the special moments.
“Always the main goal of photographers is to find that one money shot that everyone wants,” says Endres. “Dylan Dryer–When she came over and was dancing with Dr. Morris, and they’re holding hands and dancing, I just got a really good shot of them standing next to each other and their hands being at the center and showing that connection in the community–Not just UD, but Rockefeller Center, and New York, and just all around how everyone comes together for the band.”
For Dr. Morris, it was his second time with the band on the Today Show. They also made an appearance in 2019.
“It was round two for me,” smiles Dr. Morris.
While their own season was over, after the band got back from New York, they were back on the road to play for FDU in the NCAA.
“Took a lot of our chants, swapped out Dayton Flyers for FDU Knights,” says junior John Reding who plays the trombone. “My favorite personally was they gave us plastic swords to use.”
They played during Fairleigh Dickinson’s stunning upset against Purdue, as well as FDU’s loss against FAU.
“My parents and I have this group chat and the entire time during the Purdue game they’re texting me ‘this is crazy’,” says freshman Lizzi Clock, who plays the mellophone.
“There were kids fist bumping and wanting to take selfies and stuff with the band. So it’s just something you don’t expect as a band kid. You think everybody is there for the athletes,” says Barga.
Even though it was a tough loss against FAU, with an experience to remember, they haven’t lost their spirit.
They’re ready to come back next season to cheer on their team.