Countdown to Cortaca: Bombers in the Bronx, Part 11: Getting the Band Back Together

By Patrick Bohn ’05, November 4, 2022

Pep band to make a return for Cortaca Jug game at Yankee Stadium.

From November 10-12, 2022, Ithaca College will be hosting a weekend-long “IC in the City” experience in New York City for alumni and current students, faculty, and staff.  The centerpiece of this event, the 63rd annual Cortaca Jug football game between Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland, will take place on November 12 at Yankee Stadium. To highlight this amazing opportunity, we will be publishing a yearlong series titled “Countdown to Cortaca: Bombers in the Bronx,” highlighting the entire weekend. 

Ben Rochford, assistant professor of music performance and associate director of bands at Ithaca College, knows firsthand how a band can impact the atmosphere at an athletic contest.

While at the University of Florida, he assisted with the Gators’ athletic bands, which had hundreds of students traversing the country, supporting sports teams.

When he heard that the 2022 Cortaca Jug was going to be played at Yankee Stadium on November 12, he sensed a unique opportunity to bring back something from the Bombers’ past: a live pep band performing during the game. The group he has put together is comprised of nearly four dozen current students and two alumni.

“The pep band is part of so many great gameday experiences. It creates a different environment, and it’s a lot of fun. And with this game being at Yankee Stadium, that’s even more exciting. The crowd is going to be amped up, and we’re hoping to add more fuel to it. We’re going to provide energy to an electric environment.”

 

Ben Rochford, assistant professor of music performance and associate director of bands

“I want to support the athletic department,” Rochford said. “The pep band is part of so many great gameday experiences. It creates a different environment, and it’s a lot of fun. And with this game being at Yankee Stadium, that’s even more exciting. The crowd is going to be amped up, and we’re hoping to add more fuel to it. We’re going to provide energy to an electric environment.”

Rochford said that conversations have been held about forming a more permanent pep band for use at many athletic contests, and that Cortaca will provide a great opportunity.

“They’re very excited about this,” he said. “They’ve been rehearsing for two hours every Sunday for more than a month now, and we’re going to be performing a lot of great music.”

The band will be sitting in the first-base side of the stands during the game, and will play short, 10-second snippets of songs in between plays when Ithaca is on both offense and defense.

At halftime, the band will perform three full songs on the field: Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love,” Little Nas X’s “Industry Baby” and “Forget You” by CeeLo Green

Rochford said the band decided on the selections together.

“During the first rehearsal, I asked the students what they wanted to play, and we incorporated that feedback,” Rochford said.

Alex Dietz ’23, a music education major, is incredibly excited to participate in the band. He was in a pep band for four years in high school, and will be playing a mellophone, which is, in his words “a marching/athletic band specific instrument that is something in between a trumpet and a French horn.”

“I'm super excited to be playing for 40,000 people at an iconic venue like Yankee Stadium! I can't wait to contribute positively to the Bomber hype.”

Emma Vakiener ’23

“I wanted to take part in the band because I thought it would be a unique opportunity to expand what the IC Band Program has to offer,” he said of his involvement. “Almost all the experiences offered at IC are concert hall performances, but this is something entirely different, playing for a different purpose – something that is an equally enriching experience as a performer and future educator.

“It will definitely feel like an authentic college football experience having the band there,” he continued. “Marching bands and pep bands are a huge part of what make the unique atmosphere of college football what it is around the country, and that is something we hope to capture by having our pep band at Cortaca. The fans in attendance can expect a group that plays with enthusiasm, and that is going to bring their game to pump up the team and entertain them.”

Emma Vakiener ’23, who will be playing the trumpet, is also excited for the opportunity.

“It’s a fun relief from my workload and I get to collaborate with my peers who all want to play music and have fun at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “I'm super excited to be playing for 40,000 people at an iconic venue like Yankee Stadium! I can't wait to contribute positively to the Bomber hype.”

Stay in the Loop

IC in the City and Cortaca Jug 2022 is a little more than a week away. For more information and to learn about opportunities for alumni, students, faculty, staff, and IC community members, please visit the “IC in the City” homepage.