University of Arizona Pep Band set for March Madness

Pep Band director Shawn Cullen is an alum of the university and the band.

University of Arizona Pep Band set for March Madness

CREATED Mar 14, 2013

Reporter: Justin Schecker

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Regardless of how far the Arizona Wildcats go in the PAC 12 tournament, NCAA Selection Sunday is just three days away.

After a 24-6 regular season, the Wildcats are looking at another trip to the NCAA Tournament. And just like the athletes, members of the University Pep Band are looking to step up their game during March Madness. 

Inside McKale Center, you can't miss them behind the baseline in their Waldo striped shirts. Just like the team, the Pep Band prepares to take its talents on the road in March. 

"The band has to be ready to perform tip-top because it's also the big dance for us, too," band director Shawn Cullen told 9 On Your Side.

Cullen is also an alum of the university and the band, so he knows exactly what it's like for these students to represent their school during tournament time.      

"We're in a situation where there's going be another band facing you across the way for those of you who haven't traveled," Cullen told the band at a practice earlier this month.

Before they face off against other bands from across the country, electric bassist Steven Boyles says they crank it up in rehearsal. 

"We do some of our harder tunes because there are situations where we have to play against other bands in like battle of the bands," Boyles said. "And you need longer songs than what we do at McKale."

It is the raucous environment at McKale and the opportunity to travel in March that attracts band members like trumpet player Daniel Horist to attend the U of A. 

"Actually some of the criteria I had when applying to colleges, I wanted a big band, good sports teams -- so I have both of those with the U of A," Horist said.

Other band members, such as piccolo player Kelsey Sullivan become diehard fans through their love of music.

"I wasn't really a big sports person, but coming here and being immersed in the U of A culture, everyone around Tucson loves the Cats," Sullivan said.

And Boyles, who's now in graduate school, hopes what could be his last ride with the band takes him all the way to Atlanta.       

"I hope we make it to the national championship game," he said. "That's my number one hope and goal."

Members of the band are in Las Vegas for the PAC-12 tournament. Others had the chance to travel to Seattle last week for the women's conference tournament.