As Scotia-Glenville High School marched its way toward a second consecutive New York State Class A basketball title, its crimson-clad players cemented their claim to being the best in any building they played, drawing raucous cheers from fans of all schools.
Oh: The basketball team did pretty good, too.
The Scotia-Glenville Perfect Pitch Precision Pep Band does not go back generations; it traces its roots only to 2012, when a group of students decided Tartans’ sporting events needed more spirit.
The band was terrible. At least that’s how their founder remembers it.
“We were absolutely horrible,” said Kyle Yagielski, a tuba player. “We looked like a bunch of idiots.”
The band still looks like a bunch of idiots — and the term is used in the most affectionate of ways — in their sunglasses and hats and wigs. Yagielski is out front, the short guy in a kilt (the school is the Tartans, you know) with the big instrument. But the music began to change in the summer of 2013, when the pep band actually got together to rehearse.
“The second year,” Yagielski said, “we had a presence.”
The band was tight by football season. By basketball season, when the Tartans’ boys basketball team was rolling toward the first of its two consecutive state titles en route to an undefeated season, the pep band was providing the beat, in time.
Now the band has its own fan base, recognized for its musical chops, stage presence and bringing a college-like atmosphere to scholastic games. Adults marvel not only at its quality, but the fact the official club is entirely student-run, down to setting up logistics for travel and playing on the road at venues such as the Glens Falls Civic Center. The band has been written up in the press, and can be seen in clips in news stories on the basketball team.
Yagielski remembers marveling at it all last year. “Oh man,” he thought, “this is like a thing now.”
Then he realized it will remain a thing.
“I’m going to leave,” said Yagielski, who hopes to continue playing in bands at the University at Buffalo, “and it’s still going to go on.”
The Scotia pep band has street cred; imagine that. Athletic director Jamian Rockhill even compared Yagielski to the star of the basketball team.
“I look at him as I do Joe Cremo in basketball: He laid the groundwork for this thing to continue,” the athletic director said. “He and the other seniors paved the way.”
With their last varsity basketball game behind them, legacy is important to the seniors and others who have been with the pep band from the start. Yagielski will be handing down his kilt, and others will be picking up leadership roles.
“It is very important to the school. More importantly, the whole community loves us,” said alto sax player Jacob Hardy, a junior who will take over as a co-leader next year with drummer Nick Masucci.
Like Yagielski, Hardy realizes the pep band is now about more than just about having fun and entertaining people and school spirit. This is tradition in its infancy.
“When last year’s season ended, I thought about when I’m not in school anymore I can come back and see the band I helped start rock on,” he said. “I hope it lives forever.”
Reach Gazette reporter Mark McGuire at 395-3105, [email protected] or @MJMcGuire on Twitter.