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Meet Pep Band Director Bob Maag

Audrey Russell, C'27

Pep band at basketball game

Photos by Emily Flores-Amaya, C’24

As the sounds of “Sweet Caroline” fill the stands of Knott Arena in celebration of yet another victory for the Mount St. Mary’s University Division I men’s basketball team, new Director of Athletic Bands Robert (Bob) Maag stands at the center of it all, singing along proudly: “Good times never seemed so good.” And for the Mount St. Mary’s Pep Band, no truer words have been said.

pep-band_1-in-text.jpgThe Mount Athletic Department brought Maag on in November 2023 after the pep band’s previous director, Terrell Smith, left suddenly at the beginning of the academic year. In the months after his departure, the pep band’s student leadership team acted as interim director until Maag was hired.

With a Bachelor of Education in Music from the University of Nebraska and a Master of Music Performance in Percussion from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Maag brings decades of experience to the Mount’s music program. Maag spent the last 33 years teaching music at Shippensburg Area High School in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, before retiring this past summer. Though he does not have any experience at the colligate level beyond one year at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, he is thrilled to be here. “I look at this as a new adventure, if you will!” he said excitedly.

While new to the athletic department, Maag is familiar with the Mount. His wife, Theresa Maag, served as the Campus Ministry coordinator for several years during the Covid-19 pandemic. During those years, she provided music for the livestreamed Masses on campus. Now, in a twist of fate, Maag, too, brings music to the Mount, only this time on the basketball court!

The Mount hired Maag not only for his experience and connection to the university but more importantly, for his joy and passion for music and teaching. “I always loved teaching my students everything I know and always wanted them to not only become better musicians but also have fun doing that,” he commented. Whether it be cracking a joke, sharing a funny story (usually about his three grandchildren), or showing off pictures of his impressive 1930s Lionel train set that he inherited from his father, Maag always finds a way to have fun. Every band member always leaves rehearsal with a newfound pep in their step.

And the band members are not the only ones who appreciate Maag stepping into the position. Dan Engelstad, head men’s basketball coach of six years, comments on the value having a pep band brings to games and his team: “The energy from it, the crowd feeding off makes a huge difference. I was here when there wasn’t a band and they hired someone out a couple of times and those games were some of the best environments that we had. Now that we have our own, it just creates such a great atmosphere.”

The pep band is a young ensemble, but they have always prided themselves on being a band that anyone with a love of music and lots of school spirit is welcome to join, regardless of experience. They make up one-third of the “spirit squad” on campus, alongside the cheer and dance teams, and also work with individual members of the school community to share their school pride. Timothy Wolfe, Ph.D., professor of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Human Services and a talented alto and tenor saxophone player, is a frequent guest of the pep band, joining them in playing the “Star Spangled Banner” at a handful of basketball games each season, and was even invited to travel with them to the NEC Conference Tournament back in 2017. “It was a real treat to support our team and to see how hard the pep band prepared and practiced. It was a proud Mount moment for sure,” he reminisced. “I may have been the oldest musician in any of the pep bands in that year’s March Madness! It is fun to think so anyway.”

Wolfe has been an avid supporter of the band for many years and explained that while they are the best he has seen in his years at the Mount, they need the community's support to attract even more musicians and really showcase the talented student body; a dream Maag also shares. Maag aspires to see the band not only grow in numbers but venture outside Knott Arena to play at many other campus events soon. And under his direction, things have never seemed so good.

Audrey Russell, C'27