LEWISBURG — Playing in the Bison Band, the pep band that helps rev up the crowds at Bucknell University basketball and football games, was among goals Claire Rapp had even before being accepted at the school. Rapp grew up in Lewisburg, attended games on campus with her family and often wondered what playing in the band would be like.
Now a senior at Bucknell, Rapp has collected some great experiences along on the way, playing favorites like “Jungle Boogie,” “Getaway” and of course “‘Ray Bucknell,” the Bison fight song.
Rapp began playing baritone sax in the eighth grade, an instrument which she has played during her four years with the pep band.
“Once I got to Bucknell, I signed up for the group at the Freshmen Orientation Activities Fair,” she recalled. “All it took was the first rehearsal and I was hooked. It also helped that I had some really close friends join.”
Rapp admitted heckling visiting teams, especially when they are at the foul line, has proven to be enjoyable.
“Our student attendance has been really low at our home basketball games, but we take advantage of the quieter stadium and really make some noise,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun seeing how annoying we can be to the other players and coaches.”
The pep band helps the crowd stay in tune with the action on the floor or field, which in turn makes following the game more intense for the band itself.
“During the basketball and football games, we have to be ready to play or cut off at any second, so it’s very important to know the rules and flow of the games,” Rapp said. “This has helped me stay more tuned-in to the game, making it much more fun.”
Memorable moments are many, but certain losses are hard to forget.
“Losing the first round NCAA game to Butler two years ago was definitely a disappointment, but the most heartbreaking game was during my freshman year when we lost to Lehigh at the buzzer during the Patriot League Championship,” she recounted. “Losing by such a small margin so close to the end of the game was just terrible.”
The Bison Band is a collaborative effort of students, staff, faculty and community members with Phil Haynes serving as its faculty director. Haynes says he took on the role of director when he realized that the band was entirely made up of volunteers.
Haynes noted that a total of 10 seniors, a record number, formed a “unique heart and soul” of the group during their years on campus. Sax players included Rapp, Zach Berliner (Livingston, N.J.), Josh Wilson, (Cockeysville, Md.) and Alex Maclay (Downingtown), trumpets CJ Moy (Eastchester, N.Y.) and Nate Opalinski (Scottdale), trombone Josh Berliner (Livingston, N.J.) percussion Alan Braxton (Oak Park, Ill), and student directors, mellophone Adam Sperber (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and tuba Aaron Wilson (Commack, N.Y.).
While Haynes is not known to activley recruit on behalf of the Bison Band, Nick Daniloff, a Lewisburg middle schooler, donned an orange T-shirt this season and helped out on snare and cowbell.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at email@example.com.