Davis High pep band performs for North Dakota at NCAA tournament

Tuesday , March 21, 2017 - 5:15 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — Upon closer inspection, the faces of the University of North Dakota pep band at last week’s NCAA basketball match-up against the University of Arizona might have looked a little young.

Davis High School Pep Band Director Steven Hendricks said he thinks most people didn’t realize their group was actually a high school band.

“The kids got front row seats, and they had a blast,” he said.

Hendricks said he got a call Monday, March 13, asking if the band would perform for UND in Salt Lake City. He committed to going the following day, and the band started learning UND’s Fight Song.

“Thank heavens it was pretty easy, and we only had to run through it two or three times and we were fine,” he said.

The 29-student group of sophomores, juniors and seniors donned green Fighting Hawks shirts and played their hearts out.

Octavio Ruiz, a senior who plays the euphonium, said one of the most exciting moments of the game was when UND was down by about 20 points and suddenly closed that gap to about 8 points.

That’s when the band played “Hey Baby,” and the crowd went wild, singing every word.

“You feel their energy, and it kind of goes into your instrument and you play better,” Ruiz said.

UND Athletics Director Brian Faison said they couldn’t get enough band members together with spring break happening, so they requested a local one.

Despite UND losing to Arizona 82-100, he said the Davis High Pep Band did a great job, especially with the UND Fight Song.

“They nailed that big time,” Faison said.

Hendricks said the jig was up once a sideline reporter figured out they were from an area high school and did a national TV news segment on the discovery.

Peter Johnson with UND’s public affairs department was watching the game on TV and said that’s when he realized it wasn’t their own band.

“I heard them playing, and I thought they represented us well,” he said. “They could well have been our students.”

Ruiz even got to participate in a battle of the bands basketball shooting contest during the game and ultimately won.

“It was like crazy, especially for us because we’re all in high school,” Ruiz said. “We’ve never really played to a crowd that big.”

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.