An open letter to the MTU Pep Band
Dear Michigan Tech Pep Band,
From the very first hockey game I ever attended with my family after we moved to the Copper Country in 1983, I have always enjoyed listening to you play music and lead chants, whether at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, at Kearly Stadium, in the SDC Gym, or even on campus. I even had the opportunity to see you perform on Michigan’s field, scaring the pants off the Grand Valley State band, who saw you hit the field, and I watched their collective mouths hit the ground, in unison.
Your job is not always easy. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the hockey program was not very good. There might be 1100 fans or less in the arena, yet you always brought your “A” game.
In the gym, to psyche out opponents, you will try anything. You have ridden tricycles, ridden in wagons, tossed drumsticks, and so much more.
Opposing players talk about entering an arena or a gym and hearing you. They talk about how intimidating it is. They talk about how they wish their student sections were as involved as you are.
I have also posted several videos over the years to my social media pages of your entrances to volleyball, basketball and hockey, and those are some of my most engaged posts. People love you all you represent.
Huskies student athletes love having you at events. Trust me, I talk to their coaches all the time. They all mention how much energy and excitement you bring, and how that makes them want to work that much harder.
I hear the same types of things from community members, who both love your musical choices, and your chants. You have an impact on every single person who enters the Student Development Complex or heads to Kearly Stadium.
My son’s girlfriend played the flute in the band. She kept me up-to-date on everything from the oven you had to help play Timmy Trumpet’s Freaks, to the “concussion” section. She was a proud member of the Pep Band, and it helped shape her experience at Michigan Tech for four years.
All of this is why I was so disappointed in your behavior in the third period of the hockey team’s loss to Bowling Green State.
I know the game was disappointing. The Huskies lost 5-2. There is no way to sugarcoat that in any way.
The players took ownership over their mistakes in the game that led to the Falcons’ goals. Coach Joe Shawhan expressed his disappointment with his team’s efforts as well.
However, that does not even remotely justify the late third-period chant of “F*** Ohio” that originated from your area at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
For the game’s final few minutes, you, as a group, embarrassed yourselves along with all the alumni and students in the crowd. You embarrassed the community as well.
I do not blame the students near you for joining in. Once a chant like that gets started, it is hard to stop. And for those who joined in, once you hear it, especially during a game where you are disappointed in the performance of your own team, it becomes hard to start a negative chant like that, but it can be easy to join in.
I ask that you all take a long hard look in the mirror. Is that how you want to represent yourself, your friends, your classmates, your university, and your chosen community?
Michigan Tech is often recognized as having one of the premier student sections in all of NCAA Division I college sports. Do you really want to be the one who turns that recognition into anger and frustration for the wrong reasons?
I will also admit that you did a good job of redeeming yourselves on Saturday by keeping to your normal script and starting appropriate chants that were connected to the game, and not derogatory to a state while using profanity. It just made the whole night, which was also Senior Night, that much more special.
Of course, a hockey win helped as well.
So, in conclusion, I ask that you all think twice before belting out a chant that cannot be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone in a given sports venue. We all have our bad days, and I certainly hope this one was just one for you and that things will be better in the future.
After all, there is still home hockey and women’s basketball in the playoffs coming up.