This article is part of the 2022-2023 printed “Hockey Edition” that will be available on campus Friday, Sept. 30 and at both men’s and women’s opening nights. Be sure to get your copy!
Jan. 21, 2022 at Agganis Arena had a different feel to it. The Boston University men’s hockey team skated out to center ice for puck drop against the University of Vermont but something was missing –– where was the trumpeting sound of “Shipping up to Boston”? The Terriers’ late first period goal was celebrated with spotty claps, but where was the energy? We all turned to each other in the press box with a certain sadness and asked “Where is the BU Band?”
In their absence, it was strikingly clear how much the BU Band means to the sports community and the spirit of a Terrier hockey game. It’s no wonder they’re described as the hardest working pep band in all of college athletics. The action on the ice is amplified by the musicians in the stands. This year, the BU Band is celebrating 100 years of bringing unity and school pride to Commonwealth Avenue.
Victoria Paspalas, four-year member and now second-year graduate assistant for the band, has grown into her role of conductor at a majority of the BU hockey games this past season. In a way, she not only leads her instrumentalists, but leads the fans in the crowd and the players on the ice as well as a momentum shifting force.
“We kind of like to see ourselves as the soundtrack to game day,” Paspalas said. “We really try to collaborate with the Dog Pound and try to create a culture and atmosphere that not only is exciting for the fans in attendance and the players on the ice, but that makes people want to come back and makes them want to be involved.”
This sentiment has held true since the band’s start in 1920. The group’s centennial celebration has been delayed two years due to COVID-19, but they’re looking forward to this fall’s festivities that will honor the past, present and future of the band.
Trevor Powell, a senior co-manager of the pep band, has been involved in all capacities of the group since his freshman year as a clarinet section leader, office assistant and recruitment manager. His commitment is rooted in the important purpose of the band, he said.
“The band really exists as such a positive force for everyone involved whether it’s the members or the audience,” Powell said. “Everything we do is to benefit both of those parties.”
With over 200 members and 11 ensembles, the band is dedicated to being the Terriers’ number one supporter at all competitions, whether at home or away. This effort is recognized and appreciated by the Terrier faithful, especially those in the student section.
“They play a really big role in the team spirit and it really brings BU together as a community to support the team,” said Noelle Falangan, a junior in the College of Engineering. “All the chants and all of the great songs they play during the games are really an important part of how the Terriers play –– we should definitely celebrate that.”
This season’s 100 year milestone offered the BU Band a time to reflect on their accomplishments and think about their hopes for the future. Paspalas said one thing that stands out from her experience with the group is the tight knit relationships they’ve created with everyone at athletics.
“For our women’s hockey team especially, we’ve been at their games since day one,” she said. “It’s a much smaller rink, we’re closer in proximity to the ice so we’re a little more tangible to them. They are really great about showing their appreciation to us.”
Following two years filled with health restrictions and limited performances due to COVID-19, Powell said the centennial events are also honoring the perseverance of the BU Band throughout those challenging circumstances.
“It’s really special to be here during this time,” he said. “This year is really marking [that] we’re back in full strength.”
The BU Band will kick off their celebratory weekend on Oct. 21 at the men’s game with an on-ice performance, followed by an afternoon concert and ticketed banquet dinner on Oct. 22. The squad’s alumni network will also host a Sunday brunch on Oct. 23 to wrap up the centennial events. Anyone can register now to be part of the historic weekend on the Boston University Bands website.
Whether it’s a Beanpot championship win or a mid-November afternoon matchup, the BU Band will continue to be there for all the Terrier moments big and small –– and you can bet the fight song will be echoing through the arena too.