North Texas Alumni Association chapter pep band gives jaw-dropping performance

John Patishnock
October 12, 2015

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in AlumnInsider, the Penn State Alumni Association's member-benefit e-newsletter. You can click here for information on becoming a member, and can follow the Alumni Association on Facebook and Twitter for more stories and updates on events. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Alumni Association's North Texas Chapter enjoyed some spirited entertainment at the group’s student sendoff picnic this summer — the result of alumni networking and musical energy. 

Chapter President Craig Micklow said the group usually tries to do something different to provide entertainment and inject enthusiasm into the picnic and other chapter activities. In that spirit, he challenged David Fedorko to form a chapter pep band. That was last year, with Micklow hoping the band could form in time for this year’s picnic.

Mission accomplished.

Ten members comprise the pep band, including a current Penn State Marching Blue Band member, Matt Casey, who was home on summer break. Feature twirler Kelly Scalsky entertained the crowd while the pep band played, and alumni from other chapters attended the picnic, with Micklow saying everything worked out really well and the pep band received lots of support.

Craig and his wife, Judy, have hosted the group’s student sendoff picnic at their home for the past 29 years, the last 26 with Craig serving as chapter president. He said about 160 people attended the picnic — 30 more than usual — with the crowd sprawling across the Micklows’ acre-and-a-half property that features oak and pine trees, planted specifically to resemble the Pennsylvania landscape.

“It was just unbelievable,” Craig said. “Jaws dropped to the ground.”

He added that the pep band — which features former Blue Band members — plans to play at upcoming football watching events and the chapter’s annual holiday party, in addition to performing every year at the student sendoff.  

During a discussion at last year’s picnic, Micklow and Fedorko noticed that some chapter members were Blue Band alumni. Micklow said he always wanted a pep band to perform at chapter events, and the conversation evolved into a question/challenge: Could the North Texas Chapter find enough people to make this happen?

In many ways, Fedorko was the right guy to lead this initiative. He’s a trumpeter who played in the Blue Band for four years, and he knows former band members who are active in the chapter and elsewhere in Texas. Also coordinating the effort was Joe Selby. He’s married to a Penn State graduate, and their daughter is a Penn State student. Fedorko and Selby networked across Dallas/Forth Worth — an active Penn State community despite being thousands of miles away. More than 100 students from the area are attending Penn State this year, Judy said.

Fedorko and Selby used social media to gather musicians together; and word-of-mouth chatter spread, prompting volunteers to join the effort, with Susan Delanko working with the Penn State Alumni Blue Band Association to secure the music that the pep band played.

Fedorko said that the effort couldn’t have happened without Delanko, and he also thanked Colleen Rickenbacher — the original choreographer for the Blue Band Silks and the assistant choreographer for the majorettes (now the Touch of Blue majorettes) — for helping to include majorettes as part of the performance.

Pep band (3) photo

Richard Bundy, second from left, raised his arm in celebration while leading the North Texas Chapter pep band during its inaugural performance this summer. “I’ve gone to a number of alumni events, and this was the first one where they pulled together a pep bad that included Blue Band alumni living in the area,” Bundy said. “It was nice to see that they could do that.”

IMAGE: Pamela Fedorko

There was one other special guest: Richard Bundy, who retired earlier this year after three-plus decades with the Blue Band; he served as director from 1996–2015. Bundy directed the pep band during its inaugural performance. For a handful of videos that show Bundy leading the pep band, visit the North Texas Chapter Facebook page

Bundy said that other alumni groups had made several attempts over the years to form a pep band, but one challenge is having the proper instrumentation. So a few years ago, the band arranged some music that would give bands that had the basics (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) the opportunity play the fight song, Alma Mater and other selections.

“I’ve gone to a number of alumni events, and this was the first one where they pulled together a pep bad that included Blue Band alumni living in the area,” Bundy said. “It was nice to see that they could do that.”

“The purpose and focus of the event was to welcome the incoming freshmen and their families into the Penn State family,” Fedorko added, “but to do so with a Penn State dignitary such as Dr. Bundy made the ‘welcome to the Penn State family’ event that much more special.”

Bundy became part of the picture somewhat serendipitously. Fedorko attended a Dallas-area reception with Penn State President Eric Barron in February; the event was part of an Alumni Association-sponsored speaking tour that featured Barron meeting alumni across the country while sharing his vision for the University. At the reception, Fedorko met Chuck Fasnacht ’79, a North Texas Chapter member and good friend of Bundy’s. Fasnacht gave Bundy a heads up about what was happening, and Bundy and his wife, Christine, made the trip.

Bundy had visited alumni chapters across the country during his career, though this was the first time he visited the North Texas Chapter. Bundy has friends in the area, however, and he connected with Darhyl Ramsey, a former Blue Band assistant director. Ramsey is now a professor at North Texas University, and Bundy said seeing him provided a “neat aspect” to the trip.

The former Blue Band members in the pep band spanned about 30 years in age and experience, Bundy said. The alumni ranged from members in the 1980s to someone who’d just graduated last year, and combined with the overall atmosphere of the North Texas Chapter student sendoff, it provided a memorable day.

“It’s always very enjoyable to be in those situations,” Bundy said. “Anytime you get a bunch of Penn Staters together, it’s going to be a good time.”

  • Pep band (2) photo

    John Lunde graduated from Penn State in 1995 and plays the trumpet in the North Texas Chapter pep band. 

    IMAGE: Pamela Fedorko

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 13, 2015