SPOKANE, Wash. --- The Gonzaga Bulldog Band travels with the Gonzaga basketball team and helps make the game experience extraordinary.
Like many Gonzaga students, senior Xavier Collantes packed his bag this week for Phoenix, Arizona.
“Hawaiian shirts are major key,” Collantes said.
Collantes arrived to Phoenix a bit early because he has a job to do during the game.
“I’m going to go support the Zags with the Bulldog Band,” Collantes said.
Collantes’ used his saxophone skills to jazz up games for his entire Gonzaga career and, with his band mates, helped give the Kennel the energy and passion it is known for.
“Oh my god, the energy! The energy is probably one of the most important things that we have in Bulldog Band. So if you're not there playing music and jumping around and screaming and having a good time--fun is our number one thing,” Collantes said.
Fun may be number one, but fun takes time. Time is something that busy students like Xavier are often short on. Band students have to be creative with their study habits since they are on the road with the team so much.
“You know when we're on the road we get together with the cheer and other people in band and we like to study. It's a necessity because missing so much class is difficult. But at the same time, it kind of enriches that experience at the same time,” Collantes said.
Collantes said he plays his Saxophone four to five hours each week, but the Bulldog Band only practices together a few times during the school year.
“It's mainly because we just don't have the time, and people are busy, and rehearsals take a lot of time and effort, and so we're just on the fly making changes, being able to adapt to our environment,” Collantes said.
Band members adapt to their environment, but also shape it. Getting crowds on their feet to chant and dance is part of what makes Zag games what they are.
“Give that energy, hand that off to people not just in the arena, but the team itself. So we're kind of an extension of the cheer team is what I like to think,” Collantes said. “The energy is unlike any other, and it’s part of the job.”
The Bulldog Band has a lot of talented musicians. Some, like Collantes, have been immersed in music for years while others are brand new to music and join to be a part of the Kennel atmosphere.
Gonzaga will play South Carolina at 3:09 p.m. Saturday on KREM 2.