Rocking to Crusaders’ Ball

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Music and basketball have coincided at Mater Dei for years, ever since the new campus’ gym had a crystal-clear sound system installed. However, music has been gradually fading from the court for the past few seasons, with some games last year being completely devoid of any songs to energize the crowd.

On the other hand, last year was also the tentative beginning of what has now expanded into a unique experience, with both the marching band and a rock band performing at games for the first time since the school had moved from the Marian campus.

Ian Lutz, the current drum major of the marching band, faces the challenge of keeping a young program alive and motivated. “We’re growing,” he says, motioning to the fifteen or so people holding instruments around him. Participating in the basketball season is difficult for the band, but they are adapting to the challenge with new strategies and better preparation during the season.

“One thing that I would love is to have a set list of songs we could play at certain times.” The ‘certain times’ he references include the warmups before the game, the period in between the quarters, and any timeouts taken by the coaches. Unfortunately, the marching band has yet to perform at a game, but luckily, there are other groups who have filled in for them.

This year, a new musical presence has arrived at the gym: The Mater Dei Commissioners of Sound, a division of the ASB. When people enter the gym, they feel massive speakers shaking their chest as the three commissioners blast songs from their nest of sound equipment in the corner of the court.

Timmy Jordan, one of the commissioners, has been running audio systems since sixth grade. He’s accepted his new role enthusiastically: “As long as the music’s getting people hyped up for the game, that’s really the whole point of it.” Every week, he and Frankie Bautista as well as Christian Arambula choose a basketball game to debut their new playlist, filling up the quiet space between the periods and during timeouts. The recent return of the DJ format to basketball games is largely made possible by Frankie Bautista, who digitally edits popular songs so that they’re lyrically acceptable for a Catholic school. That, as well as his personal knowledge of mixing the songs, adds a modern edge to the music coming out of the gym that has been missing for the past few years.

Along with the commissioners of sound, another group has put their distinctive spin on the music during basketball games: a live rock band, consisting of students Mason Spooneas, Joe Hagerty, Fernando Lopez, and Martin Lopez. They act in a similar fashion to the commissioners, but instead of a laptop and speakers, they use guitars, drums, and amplifiers. Their catalog includes over twenty songs, from a wide variety of genres.

“They’re definitely loud enough,” says Preston Muñoz, who regularly attends the games. “It’s like, kind of new and kind of unusual but in the good way, and I’ve never seen it before.”

It’s a theme that’s been repeated over and over among students: nothing like the band has ever been experienced at Mater Dei. Freshman Louis Cimmino is impressed: “It’s like, I don’t know, it’s refreshing. Mason has that spunk where he gets all…” [makes an erratic gesture with his hands].

Part of the reason for the band’s success is the energy of the members, Spooneas’ excessive cowbell playing serving as a perfect example. It would be perfectly reasonable to whack the metal cowbell while standing up, but Mason takes it upon himself to do it while spinning in rapid circles on the floor, as if he were shredding a guitar solo. The student section seems to love it, and as an added bonus, one section of the floor gets polished.

All three groups, including the marching band, the rock band, and the commissioners of sound, contribute to the general school spirit and a community of music that distinguishes Mater Dei basketball games from any others in the area. What’s more exciting is that all three have a high percentage of underclassmen, ensuring that this new tradition will be upheld in the present and preserved in the future.

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