The Maverick Machine has been an integral part of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s volleyball, basketball and hockey games for decades. While they may not be the players everyone comes to watch, they keep the crowd hyped up and provide school spirit throughout the games. The pep band has been around in various iterations for many years. It first started as “Power Play” and performed only at hockey games. Eventually, this talented band went on an international tour in the late ‘80s. The band, as we know it, has been around since the arrival of professor Joshua Kearney, Ph.D., in 2015.
Kearney is the assistant director of bands, assistant professor of music and director of athletic bands in the School of Music. He has become a powerhouse in the music department at UNO.
“We also will sometimes play special halftime shows at athletic events. Just a couple of weeks ago the band collaborated with one of our violin teachers, professor Olga Smola, to play an arrangement of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at a men’s and women’s basketball game,” Kearney said. “Durango had a special cowbell part. A video clip was prominently featured on UNO’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.”
Some of Kearney’s favorite songs to perform are “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake and “The Contender” by Royal Crown Revenue. The Maverick Machine has also been known to play songs the crowd can interact with such as “Hey Baby,” “Crazy Train” and themes from “Tetris” and the original “Dudley Do-Right” (from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”)
The pep band is known to have an outstanding culture, specifically in the tuba section. But, there are also students who keep the program rolling like a well-oiled machine, and without them the program would not be as well-known as it is today. A few are Jordyn Bingham, Hunter Holoubek, Nora Baker, Jovany Chavez, Justin Fussell and Pablo Tovar, some of the equipment managers. Cassie Rathman is the assistant curator, and Patty Gadea handles social media for the band. These students provide outstanding leadership qualities and make not only the student section but the entire university proud.
Bingham is one of the leaders that sets a good example. She has been involved in music for over half her life and has leadership roles in the pep band and marching band. Bingham contributed to the success of both bands, feeling as if she gets more fulfillment when she is helping others, she said. Her favorite part of being in the band is cheering on the teams with her best friends and singing songs like “Africa,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” and “Dancing Queen.”
“I took on a leadership role in pep band after taking on a leadership role in our marching band,” Bingham said. “The tasks of both positions overlapped a lot and the transition was extremely easy. I originally got involved in leadership because I enjoyed my first year in our marching band so much that I wanted to contribute to our success as a band on a larger scale. Every member of our band is important, but the leadership role allowed me to take on more responsibility and get more fulfillment out of the activity all together.”
Since the pep band plays approximately 45 games a year, each student only plays an average of 18-22 games over the course of six months. They average one game per week. The season is from late September to early-mid March. Along with cheering their college teams on, they also get a stipend of $500 at the end of each season.
The band is open to students of all majors, and there are a multitude of non-music major participants. Undergraduate and graduate students have been known to be committed and active members. Auditions are in the beginning of the fall semester, in mid-to-late August.
If interested in playing in the pep band or any band program, (consisting of a marching band and two concert bands), contact professor Kearney.