“Back in My Day…:” A Historical Look at the Band and Basketball

As many of you may know, the band and FoTB (mostly just me, really) are working on compiling a history of the ensemble since 1919.  I’ll be posting topical pieces here to give the band and its alumni a taste of what is being uncovered of the group’s rich and storied past.  Given the flurry of events this week, and hopefully into the coming weeks, I thought I’d take a look at the band’s relationship with the game of basketball.

The Band at the 2004 NCAA Basketball Tournament
Josh Burton '05 (right) and Pat Taylor '06 about to explode at the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Denver.

The band’s relationship with basketball is almost as old as the band itself.  The Daily Princetonian tells us that the band, looking for ways to occupy itself during the off-season, played at its first basketball game on January 28, 1920 against Penn (sucks) in University Gymnasium, just a few months after being founded.  The band, clad only in plainclothes for these early events, continued to play at most home contests from then on, weathering games in frosty Baker Rink when University Gym burnt down, and decades of games in Dillon Gymnasium as Princeton grew into a mid-major powerhouse and perennial “giant killer” in the NCAA Tournament.

The Band at a '50s Basketball Game in Dillon Gym
At a game in Dillon Gym in the '50s

As far as I can tell, the band played at its first NCAA Tournament in 1969, cheering on the eventual semi-finalists in the first three rounds in Philadelphia and College Park, MD.  Here, <http://band.princeton.edu/wiki> you can find an editable list of the band’s tournament appearances.  Please take a look and let us know about any trips or stories we may not know about.

This week, is a week full of firsts for Princeton basketball and the band.  This evening, the men played in their first ever College Basketball Invitational Tournament game, in Jadwin Gym against Duquesne University.  This was their first postseason bid since 2004, and the band, faithfully on campus for spring break, cheered them onto victory!  They will face Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis on Monday in Indy.  Saturday, the women’s team will play in their first ever NCAA Tournament against St. John’s in Tallahassee, FL.  The band will be joining them, so check back here next week for a trip update from your Alumni Coordinator Jacquelyn Nestor ’12.

This particular trip is an especially big deal for the band because it adds another state to the travel map:


That’s right, the band has never been to sunny Florida before this weekend.  Did you know that in the last 3 years, the band has ventured to 4 states for the first time?  Wisconsin, South Carolina, Minnesota, and now Florida are all on the list.

Check out the women’s team and the band on ESPN2, or online at www.espn360.com, this Saturday at 12:21 pm Eastern time!  Then watch the men’s team take on the Jaguars on Monday on HDNet at 7:00 pm Eastern time.


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