By: Marie Raymond and Dorie Triplett
Late on a warm Autumn evening, the Buzzin’ Dozen Pep Band converge in the quaint Armstrong Concert Hall lobby – located at the heart of campus. Arriving in the lobby, the members socialize, warm-up before rehearsal, or just scroll through their phones.
Making one’s way through the musical hallways of Armstrong, some of the Pep Band drummers, sousaphone players and directors meet at the band closet. As the drummers are unloading drums bigger than themselves, Associate Director Avery Apgar ‘20 (on the directorship for 4 years) speaks about how much fun the band has and shows off the quirky and peppy toys that the Pep Band brings to their games.
In the supply closet, the band has stashed Buzzy (the real MVP), a two-foot John Cena action figure, a life-size unicorn head, an assortment of cat masks, and of course a Pep X-ing sign.
After a good amount of laughter, picking each other up (quite literally), and Snapchats snapped, everyone piles into the theatre and takes up their favorite spots.
The Director Ethan Bodsford ‘21 leads the Pep Band through a smile-inducing practice. Although some might assume that Ethan would be at the top of the hierarchy, it is obvious that his focus is on the band and not himself.
The Pep Band idea was approached by a Retired Public Safety Officer, Phil “Skip” Hunter. Mr. Hunter wrote a proposal for President Tracey Fitzzimons back in 2007-2008 Academic Year. It then went forth with buying drumline equipment and other equipment that the band needed.
The Pep Band was founded in 2008 by Eric Price (founder of the Fight Song for Shenandoah), and the first group of peppiest members. The name “Buzzin’ Dozen” comes from this first group because it all started with only twelve members.
Ever since the Pep Band was founded at Shenandoah, the famous red director’s jacket has been passed down each of the past eleven years. Each star on the jacket represents a director of the Pep Band. Not only has each director sewn their initials inside the jacket, but left a letter in the pocket for the next directors to come. Ethan is now the seventh director of Pep Band, symbolically adding that seventh star to the jacket.
Today, the Buzzin’ Dozen has about forty members. With their fearless leader, Ethan in the drive, the members of the Pep Band view Ethan not as their superior, but as their friend. Many members have expressed that Ethan is the most positive and admirable friend/director they have ever met.
Ethan Bodsford is a friend to all in the Pep Band, but he is more than just that. Ethan is a Music Production and Recording Technology student. He is a brother in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, holding the treasurer position. He earnestly expresses that his brothers in Phi Mu Alpha are his family.
Out of anyone that could have been voted as the head of the band, it’s apparent that it was meant to be Ethan. Although one would, of course, expect the director of the pep band to be highly enthusiastic- Ethan has an aura of light anywhere he goes. Even to someone that barely knows him, he offers an indescribable peace from within. He’s more than happy to share his positivity with everyone.
This past March, Ethan lost his mom to Esophageal Cancer.
Just from hearing about her memory, one can quickly make the connection between Ethan and his mom. She was driven, creative, outgoing, and highly in touch with her Native American roots. Without even talking to Ethan for as long as two minutes, you can sense there’s something metaphysical about the fire and drive in his heart. With a nostalgic smile and love in his eyes, Ethan confidently states that his mom would want him to keep doing what he’s doing. Not to mention, he does it with so much grace and humility.
Many of his friends from college gave him love and support away from home during that difficult time. About two-three days before his mom passed, some of Ethan’s brothers of Phi Mu Alpha drove over 3 hours from Winchester, VA to Richmond, VA. They came to be there for him, but they also sang to his mom and other patients in the hospital.
Not only did Ethan lean on his brothers from PMA, but he describes the unbelievable love and support he receives from his girlfriend Emma (who attends Lynchburg University) and best friend Jake McHugh ‘21.
Serendipitously running into Jake McHugh outside of Armstrong, he speaks only of Ethan having such tremendously admirable qualities. Ethan’s positive outlook on life is nothing short of contagious. “Even though he was going through that” Jake says, “he didn’t turn it into an excuse, he didn’t divert any attention towards himself- he’s selfless”.
Not only have Ethan and Jake leaned on each other through hardships, but it’s clear they’ve had their share of joyous times, too. Although Jake would not disclose them, the world is definitely anticipating their business’ release of the “pants vending machine” (patent pending).
Today, Ethan takes responsibility as a leader in Pep Band, PMA and a great friend in the eyes of his fellow colleagues. He is a determined individual, virtues that you know he obtained from his mom. He’s a true and loyal “Brother at the Door”. As he grows from one phase of his life to the next, he attracts friends (to him, they’re family) that reflect his kind, captivating, and high vibrational soul.
When Ethan asserts “it’s gonna be okay”, nothing else in the world could be more true. And next time you see him in Armstrong Hall or at a football game, be sure to send him some good vibes.