By Brandon O'Connor
Assistant EditorTucked in the midst of the Corps of Cadets section at Michie Stadium, a small group of cadets refuses to be dampened no matter the score or weather.With instruments in hand, the members of the Cadet Spirit Band are dancing, cheering and, of course, playing music as they do everything they can to spur the cadets on as they cheer for the Army West Point Football team."I think we bring the spirit," Class of 2019 Cadet Abby Greco, the band president, said. "We are standing the whole time, we are jumping and we are yelling. We are upfront, so we kind of steer the corps and have fun. We try to play music that is newer or popular so people really invest in it and get excited."The spirit band practices two nights a week and attends every football game--home and away--as well as tailgates, spirit luncheons and select basketball games. For home events, the full band attends with roughly 100 members, but for away games they take a smaller contingent of 45 to 50.
"It gives the team someone that they know (who) will be there every game to support them," Greco said of what the football team gets from the band joining them on the road. "I really like that aspect and to see different stadiums and people is really nice. When we went to the Duke game, I got the chance to go the VA Hospital to visit. Little things like that are nice to do."This year's Duke game was played under clear skies in Durham, North Carolina, but Army's 2016 trip to Durham was marred by pouring rain throughout and a loss in a low scoring game. But even with the conditions and the score against them, the spirit band continued to rock and cheer on their fellow cadets on the field."We are the most concentrated section of spirit in the corps," Class of 2019 Cadet Oseji Azuka, the executive officer of the band, said. "I have been to every single game pretty much. Even games where it was really bad weather like the Duke game two years ago. It was raining and it was one shirtless guy in the stands and the spirit band, no one else. Even through that game, we were the most spirited. I think that kind of spirit helps out the corps to get pumped for games."Each week during the season, the band practices its music to play in the stands, but as December draws closer, part of the focus switches to preparing for the Army-Navy game. During that week, the spirit band performs a three-song set during the gala, including choreographed movements.The real excitement occurs before the gala though, when the spirit band and the Navy Drum and Bugle Corps face off in a battle of the bands playing music back and forth, including pieces they haven't revealed at any other time during the year."The bands just get in a hallway and we go back and forth playing our songs," Greco said. "Two years ago, Navy started running out of songs to play so we started playing more songs and were moving forward toward their band. The superintendent came in and started dancing with us. That's one of my favorite memories."Greco and Azuka both joined the spirit band right from the get-go their plebe year at West Point. In the three full years in the band since then, they said they have found a community of friends who enjoy playing music and putting their all into cheering for Army Football."I love the community. We are fun. We are the spirit band and there is a ton of spirit in the band. I have met some of my best friends in the band," Greco said. "No matter what, we are cheering on the team and playing music. I think music is one of those things people can always rally behind and rally around. I think music is a big part of everybody's life and I think keeping music that is upbeat and fun and having it be cadet-led is something to invest in."