As the band members talked through their schedule — a red-eye flight back to campus, a few tests, some laundry, perhaps — they paused to make sure they didn’t sound like they were complaining.
They got to watch Van Lith shoot 3-pointers courtside, one said. And basketball is both more fun and easier to understand than football, another chimed in. Plus, there is no true competition between bands, so everyone makes friends on the road. Members of the Mississippi band complimented Louisville’s arrangements, some players said proudly. Sometimes band members from different schools trade hats and T-shirts.
No rivalries? Not even ahead of the bigger games? “I mean, we’re all band kids,” said Calli Cairo, a trumpet player at Iowa. A handful of trumpet players nodded emphatically. The bands always win, they like to say “We’re the best student section there is,” Cairo added.
They sure are the loudest.
When Iowa is on the road away from its home court, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the band brings the home-court advantage with it. Band members dubbed Minneapolis’s Target Center, home of this year’s Big Ten tournament, Carver North. Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, home of the round of 16 and the round of 8, was quickly dubbed Carver West by band members and Iowa forward McKenna Warnock. American Airlines Center in Dallas, home of the Final Four, would obviously be Carver South, the band members said .
It also does not hurt that Iowa has a large fan base that follows the team. Ahead of Sunday’s game, hundreds of Hawkeye fans gathered at a beer hall a few blocks from the stadium. When the band and cheerleaders stopped by for a quick performance, the crowd went wild. A sea of phones rose in unison to capture the scene. Fan favorites currently include “Separate Ways” by Journey and “Holiday” by Green Day.
“Everyone is dialed into the reason we are here, which is the incredible women’s basketball team,” said Drew Bonner, a graduate teaching assistant for the Iowa band. His players know how to lift the players on the court, he said, and the Players, coaches and fans are generous in showing their support for the band.