No matter whether there are many fans or none, warm weather or cold, feeble opponents or tough, there is always one constant at a home football game to make the experience more enjoyable: the Mucho Macho Moocow Military Marching Band.
The marching band plays at all football home games and typically one of their away games. Occasionally, they play for other sports teams, most frequently basketball during the winter season, but cheering for the football players is their priority.
The Moocows have a very good relationship with the football team. “The coach [Head Coach Aaron Kelton] always comes up to us and says thank you at the beginning of every game,” Jessica Luning ’14, senior band leader, said. “A few years ago, our show went really long on Homecoming, over the time that we were supposed to, but the coach held the players and the game and let us finish and walk off the field before the game started again, and that was really nice,” Luning said. By tradition, when a game ends, the marching band plays “The Mountains,” followed by the football team’s rendition of “Yard by Yard” if they’ve won.
As loved as the marching band is by players and fans alike, the Moocows never know how they’ll be treated by the opposing school. A few weeks ago, when Williams played Tufts at home, Tufts brought its own marching band. The Moocows invited the Jumbo band to play a song together, but Tufts brought music stands, whereas the Moocows clip their music to their instruments, so Tufts had to remain stationary. To accommodate their inability to move, the Ephs’ band went over to the opposing side and collaborated on a song. “We got over there, and we played a song with them,” Luning said. “It was really fun, and then our team scored after going back-and-forth for a while, so we played our fight song like we always do and the [Tufts] parents freaked out. They got in our faces, they were yelling at us to leave, they were like, ‘You’re here as our guests, how dare you do that?’ And we were like, ‘You’re only allowed at the stadium as our guests, are you kidding me?’” Luning said. When the marching band went to Wesleyan last weekend, however, they were greeted with a warm reception – applause – that they were not used to receiving at home prior to playing since Ephs take their presence at games for granted.
The band is always easy to spot – even when they’re in the stands where one would think they’d blend into the purple and gold of the crowd – due to the eccentric hats they don as part of their band costume, along with their jackets. Even the instruments themselves reflect the College mascot and colors. This year, the Mucho Macho Moocow Military Marching Band features the flute, clarinet, trumpet, snare drum, base drum, bells, baritone, trombone and a “big, purple, cow-spotted sousaphone” among its ensemble of instruments. The band is looking to find a student who plays bass for next season to showcase their purple and yellow upright bass on wheels. With that said, the band accepts musicians of all levels – in fact, one need not be literate in music or familiar with an instrument in order to join. The kazoo has been a popular instrument to learn in years past, as were the drums. “The two senior leaders before me both didn’t play an instrument when they got here,” Luning said, “The [senior leader] two years ago, our drummer, graduated still not knowing how to read music.”
As a school without cheerleaders, the College depends on the Moocows to support the team and rally the fans. “It’s really fun when we have a big enough crowd and we can get a wave going or a chant going – that part for me is the most fun. I think that’s my favorite part of the whole game, being the cheerleaders,” Luning said.
While the Moocow’s mission to get the Ephs riled up is clear, there is no clear consensus as to what the official band name is. A website in memorium of a ’90s band leader calls the band the “Williams College Marching Scrambling Stumbling Strutting Mucho Macho Military Moocow Marching Band,” while a 2003 article from the Record goes further, referring to the band as the “Williams College Speedin’, Bleedin’, Turnin’, Burnin’, Imbibin’, Proscribin’, Always Chillin’, Amherst Killin’, Lawn-mowin’, Discus-throwin’, Dancin’, Pantsin’, Brick Layin’, Bill Payin’, Honkin’ Bonkin’, Sugar Consumin’, Body Exhumin’, Redeemin’, Careenin’, Smokin’, Tokin’, Military Precision Mucho Macho Moocow Marching Band and Gung-Ho Flagpole-Swiping Squad of Kumquat Quashers” (“The marching madness of the Moocow Band,” Nov. 11, 2003). Whatever the title, it’s evident that the marching band has an unwavering place in the College’s athletics community.