Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Assume for a second that you represent a school whose hockey team has widely been labeled a historic Cinderella. Assume that your school is coming to Washington, but that its pep band is stuck behind in the far northern reaches of the country. Assume further that your school's primary color is green. Now, can you think of any area pep bands that might make for a suitable replacement?
"Wanted to give you a heads up that the Green Machine will be playing as Bemidji State's pep band at the Frozen Four this week," George Mason's iconic band leader, Doc Nix, wrote to me this week.
"There are a lot of connections there, aren't there?" Bemidji Athletic Director Rick Goeb said with a laugh.
The Red Line Swingers -- who usually represent the Beavers -- had other commitments and were unable to make the trip, and the school turned to Capitals employee and Bemidji Super Fan Rachel Becker.
You know that drum line that's always outside (and inside) Capitals games? Well, they're The Mean Green, also from Mason. So Becker got in touch with the Mason folks, and now we have an irresistible tale of little-guy solidarity, with Nix already schooling his charges about their fellow underdogs, and the Mason kids doing Bemidji research of their own.
Except you know what's weird? Even though Bemidji Coach Tom Serratore has openly compared his squad to the '06 Patriots, who knocked off top-seeded Connecticut in the same Verizon Center where the Frozen Four will be played, the Bemidji athletic department isn't so sure about the comparison. The Beavers have won more than a dozen national hockey championships, though none in Division I, and they don't see themselves as Jim Larranaga-style mid-major gate-crashers this week.
"Obviously the perception is true in many ways, but when we look at it at Bemidji State, we don't look at it as Cinderella," Goeb said. "We're not satisfied. We're looking at making some more noise in the hockey championship. I know people look at it as a Cinderella story, and maybe that's what it is, but in our minds we have a lot of pride. And for us, it's an expectation that our hockey program does well."
So should we run with this Mason thing or not?
"You know, we want to have fun, too," Goeb said. "It's all about having fun and enjoying the experience."
And so I know what you're wondering: Will the Mason band learn the Bemidji fight song? Will they play any Green Machine specialties? Will they bust out "Livin' on a Prayer," the anthem of the 2006 Final Four run, the song that still makes me think of Lamar Butler hugging his dad and Larranaga high stepping and Folarin Campbell leaping on the press table to salute the Verizon Center crowd?
"Yes, yes, and yes," Doc Nix answered. "We are excited to show our support for their team and fans in the best way we know how."
Oh, and will he dress . . . you know . . . how he dresses?
"The Beavers wear green," he noted. "I wonder if I have a green suit laying around somewhere. . . . "