By Ashley Day, Editor-In-Chief —
The upbeat pep music heard filling the stadium during UTC football, basketball and volleyball games is often the main driver of crowd support. Students may notice their funky beats throughout pep rallies, tailgates or in the stands, but the Marching Mocs are always present to cheer the Mocs on to victory.
Jonathan Walker, Chattanooga sophomore, plays french horn and mellophone for the Marching Mocs.
“Everything we do is for the University, the students, everybody,” Walker said. “All the rehearsal time we do, that’s for them. That’s not for us.”
He also participated in band in high school, where he had a very close friend group. In college, however, he said the band is even more of a community.
“It’s more of a family bond than anything,” Walker said. “This is my second year, but whenever we came back to band camp it was like a giant reunion. You don’t see them the whole summer, and you think about them all the time. It’s just like a giant reunion.”
Joshua Wood, junior from Chattanooga, said marching band helps him stay involved on campus because the band participates in so many events.
He also has a mild case of cerebral palsy, which slightly paralyzes the right side of his body, making it more difficult for him to march trombone. However, he marches on to support the Mocs and his teammates.
“I always have a friend that I can wave at when I’m walking between classes,” Wood said. “It made me feel less anxious during my first semester because I already made friends during band camp.”
The band practices six hours a week, not including game days. Typically, musicians also practice an hour or two outside of those scheduled rehearsals.
“Our music is constantly changing or needs work, so I’m constantly practicing,” Walker said.
During games, tailgates, pep rallies and other events, the Marching Mocs support UTC’s teams by getting the crowd pumped up.
“This year has been the most exciting because I feel that the administration and the school have really gotten behind the band,” Wood said. “I believe the fans love us, as we help them get into the games.”
Walker said the band receives support from the University, but that students and alumni don’t seem to pay much attention.
On game days, the band arrives about six hours early to start warming up and preparing for the day.bThey play for tailgaters and the Moc Walk before participating in the Spirit Parade, where the band, the cheerleaders and the Sugar Mocs parade through First Tennessee Pavilion.
During the game, the band plays upbeat tunes to pump up the crowd. Wood said they try to play songs the crowd can get into, so they try to switch it up when possible. They play several locally-known Chattanooga tunes like the Fight Song and “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” but they also play more modern songs like “Shut Up and Dance.”
After the second quarter, the band heads down to the field to play their halftime show. This year, Walker said they have a Bruno Mars-themed show.
Many members of the Marching Mocs continue to support UTC athletics by playing in the pep band at basketball and volleyball games.
When they’re not out supporting UTC’s athletic teams, the Marching Mocs sometimes attend exhibitions, where they perform in front of several high school marching bands.
“It is so awesome because a lot of high school band members look up to us,” Wood said. “Additionally, it’s a band competition that I went through for 3 or 4 years I marched during high school.”
Walker said exhibitions are a great way for the band to recruit new members and show off some UTC pride.