Owl Pep Band plays its first games this basketball season


Photo courtesy of John Gladu

By Sarah Knowlton 11/29/22 11:04 PM

The Owl Pep Band, which was introduced in September, debuted this basketball season. In earlier years the Marching Owl Band often played at these games.

According to assistant athletic director Rick Mello, the new band was formed to enhance gaming experiences for fans as Rice transitions to the American Athletic Conference next year.

The new band has undergraduate students, graduate students, MOB members, Shepherd School students, students from other bands and a student athlete, according to Mello.

“I am pleased with the progress,” added Mello.

OPB member Nathan Horton said the reason for the interest in membership can be attributed to the pay incentive.

“When you get paid to be in band, it’s a pretty obvious choice,” said Horton, a Martel College sophomore.

Another OPB member, Benjamín Gómez, said that although he considered joining MOB at one point, he chose to participate in OPB due to the lower time and pay commitment.

“I feel like [the MOB] it’s a bigger time commitment,” said Gomez, a Duncan College freshman. “For OPB, practices are only two hours before the game if you have the time. It is very optional.

MOB alumnus Jose Corea (’21), who is still a part of the band as an alumnus, said this year’s change in MOB’s schedule has impacted the band’s atmosphere.

“There is a kind of melancholy,” Corea said. “At this time of the year, we would be playing basketball games and we can’t do that.”

MOB alumnus Ian Mauzy (’14) wrote to Thresher that MOB’s removal from basketball games has made some students feel betrayed.

“I think students feel, correctly, that something has been taken from them without their consent, let alone their opinion, and that they are not being given anything of comparable value in return,” Mauzy wrote in an email.

Mauzy also said that with these emotions running high in the MOB, he doesn’t take kindly to the fact that OPB members get paid.

“I can understand wanting the newest songs played in games and all things being equal, I’m all for paying musicians,” Mauzy wrote. “But none of those are things that required the creation of a new organization. Both could have been handled through existing channels. And along with everything else, fifty dollars a game seems like thirty pieces of silver.

Korea said that MOB has no animosity towards OPB members.

“There’s not really a feud with the team, just the idea,” Corea said. “We just want to stand in solidarity with our string players, our accordion players, even our woodwind players who wouldn’t get priority in a brass-centric pep band.”

The athletic department stated that although instrumentation would be restricted, they pledged to welcome as many members of the MOB as possible, as well as members of the Rice community at large.

“MOB alumni and community members who have been a part of MOB, are also a part of the Rice community,” Mello said. “That’s why we’ve been very, very open with our willingness to invite them to be a part of this.”

OPB member Najee Greenlee said she has had a positive experience with the band so far.

“Everyone is very welcoming, everyone is very friendly,” said Greenlee, a Lovett College freshman. “We had a good time.”

Sophia Flemister, who plays in both MOB and OPB, said they had noticed differences between the two bands, but enjoyed the atmosphere of both.

“I feel like [the OPB] it’s a different environment in the sense that it feels a little more professional,” said Flemister, a Duncan freshman. “I enjoy the music, I enjoy the people, it’s a good time.”

Flemister said that for them, a combination of the values ​​of both groups would be an ideal solution to resolve disputes.

“I think what needs to happen is sort of a merger between the two groups, because I definitely see the prospect of having a new group but also having the traditions of the MOB,” Flemister said.

Ethan Goore, game producer, equipment manager and percussionist for MOB, said he feels MOB is more representative of the Rice culture.

“The decision to replace the MOB with a traditional pep band sets a dangerous precedent for Rice replacing the unconventional with the traditional,” Goore, a Duncan College sophomore, wrote in an email to Thresher. “The beauty of MOB is that it’s not just a band, it’s a community where everyone is invited to enjoy the gift of musical performance in a fun and supportive environment.”

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