Musicians, dancers raise their game when HU-NSU play ball

By Simone Taylor

Fans can expect more than 3 point bombs and emphatic dunks at Monday night's Hampton vs. Norfolk State basketball game. For years, Hampton University organizations such as the Blue Thunder Cheer Squad, Ebony Fire, the Majestic Dance Team, and the Pep Squad Band have been entertaining the crowds with dance, stunts, and music.

Monday night's game will be no different, as these organizations are preparing to give the crowd a game to remember. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, and attendance is expected to be high due to the rivalry between both cross-harbor schools.

Band members have been practicing two hours a day, at least twice a week. Rehearsal requires members to learn and memorize music and occasionally learn dances. Said sophomore trombone player Edgar "Trey" Rawles, "The band as a whole usually puts more effort into big games, not only because NSU is our rival, but because Norfolk's band will be in attendance too."

The band usually plays six songs per game. Fans can expect to hear the band play upbeat classics including: "It Ain't My Fault" by Silkk the Shocker and "Mr. Ice Cream Man" by Master P.

Band members often use their close proximity to the court to assist in distracting the other team's players and to get the crowd involved in the game. Said sophomore bass drummer Tanai English, "the crowd tends to be more involved with the band when we play rival schools. I wish it was like that every game, but there is a noticeable difference when playing rival schools." Norfolk State and Howard University – the other HU – are Hampton's rivals, whether fierce or friendly.

The Majestic Dance Squad will perform a mix of Rihanna songs at halftime. In addition to the halftime performance, the squad also dances in the stands during the game. Majestic practices Monday through Thursday and has held weekend practices to prepare for Monday's game.

Stamina is an important factor for the dancers due to the difficulty of their routines. Said junior Tiara Frazier, "As far as the physical aspect, we definitely have to be fit and in shape because who wants to look at a tired dancer?"

The Blue Thunder Cheer Squad will keep the crowd intrigued by performing various cheers and chants. The members of the squad have been practicing stunt sequences and dance drills for the big game. Said sophomore Bre'on Long, "I feel like there's a lot of pressure to making sure everything goes right and there's few to no mistakes, but I'm just going to cheer my hardest!" The pep squad assists the cheerleaders in leading chants that get the crowd involved. The anticipation is high for both the players and those off the court. "[Things] can get a little out of hand at times," said Long, "but I hope it's a good game and the Pirates take the W!"

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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