UNI pep bands on the road again

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  • La banda de ámino estan orgullosos por poder ir a los torneos se basquetbol.

  • For many pep band students, the postseason opportunities are a highlight to the season. Students and faculty alike are very grateful to have the opportunity to support Panther basketball at the tournaments.

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Pep bands to attend conference basketball tournaments thanks to anonymous donor

UNI pep bands will now be attending the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournaments with the help of an anonymous donor.

The Northern Iowan reported in November 2022, that the pep bands would not travel to the men’s or women’s conference basketball tournaments due to budget cuts within UNI Athletics. 

According to UNI Athletics Director David Harris, since the publishing of the article, a donor has stepped forward to provide the funds required to send the band to the men’s tournament in St. Louis, Mo., and the women’s tournament in Moline, Ill.. 

“We have been working since the last time we spoke [with the Northern Iowan] to try to identify funding from different ways and in different areas, but ultimately, when this donor came forward, that ended up being the thing that made the difference for us in being able to provide the funding,” Harris said.

Harris said that the donor has requested that their identity and the amount donated remain confidential.

The donation was given with the specific purpose of funding the pep band’s travel. 

“This was new money, and they were specifically interested in helping us with this initiative,” Harris said. “It was important to them, and so they wanted the money directed specifically for this cost.”

Justin Mertz, Ph.D., associate director of bands at UNI, said he was notified on the morning of Feb. 2 that the band would attend the tournaments.

“I, the rest of the faculty and staff here in the band program and the students were very pleased and very happy to hear that,” he said.

“We were very happy and gratified that people around campus thought it was important enough to make happen, because people do value the band,” Mertz said. “They thought it was important enough to make happen, and they were able to make it happen.”

After the announcement that the bands would attend the tournaments, Mertz said that they were immediately able to staff bands to travel to both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

“The students are very excited to go. They’re excited to represent UNI, they’re excited to be a part of a great event, and they’re excited to support the student athletes,” he said. “The student athletes and the band students sort of develop a little bond each season, and they come to really appreciate each other,” Mertz said. 

Maggie Glenn, a junior sousaphone player in the pep band, echoes Mertz’s statements.

“I was so excited to find out that we could go on the trips because I had a lot of fun on the band trip last year,” she said. 

“The pep band is at almost every basketball game and helps create that atmosphere in the arena. I believe it’s important to bring the band because we choose to be there to cheer on our teams, and we genuinely want to support them during their playoff runs. Plus, I’d like to think we boost the morale in the arena,” Glenn said.

Harris also expressed gratitude from UNI Athletics that the funding was able to be provided.

“It’s not the same without [the band], and they add in an element of school spirit that we think is important for that environment, which is why we’ve continued to try to pursue different ways to be able to make this happen. We’re just fortunate that there was someone who was willing to come forward with the funding that was necessary to make it a reality,” Harris said.

The athletes and bands will be hitting the road in just a few weeks, with the conference tournaments taking place March 2-5 for the men and March 9-12 for the women.