On Monday, April 8, the UCSB Athletic Department placed an ad in the Daily Nexus to say congratulations to the UCSB men’s and women’s basketball teams for their amazing historical run to the NCAA Tournaments. We also thanked numerous people for their hard work and involvement in this wonderful season. Unfortunately, we overlooked two very important groups on campus that made the difference for us this year.

The UCSB pep band and the UCSB cheerleading squad were at every single men’s and women’s home basketball game this past season. They even traveled to away games just to support the teams. But their dedication and hard work showed when our teams made the NCAA Tournament.

The pep band traveled to Albuquerque with the men’s team. Since the men played Thursday and the women played in Austin, TX, on Friday, they desperately wanted to support both programs. We tried, but were unable to find any flights or buses available to take the band from Albuquerque to Austin.

Determined to find means of transportation, the band worked the Internet, the phone lines and fax machines the entire time we were in New Mexico and somehow found a charter bus available and hotel rooms in Austin. We booked the trip, and at midnight on Thursday, we left New Mexico and drove for 15 hours straight to Austin, TX. We arrived in Texas at the arena a half hour before game time – no chance to go change or shower or even get a bite to eat. Nevertheless, the band was up and running and as strong as ever at the game, chanting, playing and yelling their hearts out.

Not only were they enthusiastic after a 15-hour bus ride and a two-hour layover at a bus station in good old Abilene, TX, they were ready at every home game throughout the season. The cheerleaders were out on the floor, tumbling and leading chants and yelling just as loudly. In Texas, they kept the UCSB fans entertained for both games, even doing routines with the University of Texas cheer squad. They were better than ever this past year, and we should be excited to see what they have for us next season.

If you know a band member or a cheerleader, give them a big pat on the back and a “Way to go” for this year. We all know how amazing this March was for UCSB, how much television exposure we got, how much excitement there was in I.V. when our men beat Utah State, and how much everyone should be looking forward to see what’s in store next year! For more information on joining the UCSB pep band or the cheer squad, log on to www.GauchoLocos.com.

Go Gauchos!

Chris Austin is the assistant director of marketing for UCSB’s Dept. of Intercollegiate Athletics.